Be Thorough: Tinubu Tasks Tripartite C’ttee On National Minimum Wage

By Miriam Humbe

“I urge you to consider the issue of a National Minimum Wage and all related matters with thoroughness and concern, keeping in mind not only the welfare of our workforce but also the impact on the country’s economy.”

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said this on Tuesday at the inauguration of the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage in Abuja.

The President said that the labour force stands as the cornerstone of the progress of every nation, and ours has been the enduring engine of our pursuit of development.

He said: “I, therefore, welcome the nominees of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee, comprising the Government, Employers, and Labour Unions, who have been carefully selected for the crucial task of renegotiating a new National Minimum Wage for workers in Nigeria.

“Our sense of duty today thrives on both our sensitivity to the conditions of the Nigerian worker and the impending expiration of the last Minimum Wage Instrument in a few months.

“It is in recognition of the need to ensure a fair and decent living wage, and in compliance with the Act, that the Federal Government has set in motion necessary mechanisms to assemble this tripartite Committee to chart a future that aligns with our collective interests.

“While the decisions we have taken to save the economy are inevitable, we are not unaware of the short-term consequences.

“We believe that government is a continuum, and, as such, we have intervened in the systemic delays that undermined our economic growth.

“Since the removal of the subsidy, various committees have been established to examine and make recommendations to the government on measures to cushion the envisaged painful effects of the increase on workers and the Nigerian populace at large.

“I am pleased to share that action has since commenced on the implementation of the outcome of those agreements and initiatives.

“This gathering stems from the deliberations of one of the Technical Committees, which included representatives from both Government and Organized Labour.

“We have identified the need for the review of the National Minimum Wage and to consider a minimum wage level that can alleviate the nation.

“It gladdens my heart that the recommendation is being acted upon today, and we can all acknowledge that this is in line with our democratic process and adherence to the rule of law.

“I express my gratitude to all those who contributed to that endeavour.

“Given the comprehensive membership scope of this new National Minimum Wage Committee, it includes all stakeholders.

“Recognizing the significance of this initiative and to ensure a substantial engagement, I hereby direct that Ministers and the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation should personally attend the meeting.

“In their unavoidable absence, their Permanent Secretaries should represent them.

“Similarly, Governors are expected to attend in person or be represented by their Commissioners where necessary.

“The issue of a National Minimum Wage for the Federation falls within the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“Therefore, our objective should be to surpass the basic Social Protection Floor for all Nigerian workers, considering the sustainable payment capacity of each tier of government and other employers or businesses.

“I express this viewpoint because the minimum wage represents the least amount of compensation an employee should receive for their labor, and as such, it should be rooted in social justice and equity.

“I hope that the results of your deliberations will be consensual and acceptable to all parties involved.

“The government’s decision, following the consideration of your final recommendation, will be presented as an Executive Bill to the National Assembly.

“This bill, enriched by the contributions of state governments and private sector employers, will undergo thorough legislative scrutiny before being passed into law.

“I am hopeful that the Committee will employ the principles of full consultation with Social Partners and their direct participation, considering the core provisions of the International Labour Organization Minimum Wage Fixing Convention No. 131 and Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Convention No. 26, both of which have been ratified by Nigeria.

“In accordance with this, the conditions of genuine Social Dialogue should prevail in the spirit of Tripartism and Collective Bargaining Agreements.

“I, therefore, encourage all of you to engage in collective bargaining in good faith, recognize each other, and maintain a spirit of give and take.

“Additionally, please continue your consultations outside the Committee as you work towards recommending a new National Minimum Wage

“The Committee is anticipated to conclude its deliberations promptly and submit its report and recommendations.

“This timely submission is crucial to initiate the necessary processes for implementing a new National Minimum Wage.

“The Hon. Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy has been instructed to allocate the essential funds and logistics to the Committee, facilitating the timely completion of its assigned task.

“I hereby inaugurate the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage and extend my best wishes for fruitful deliberations.”

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume urged the Committee to eschew individual interests and focus on the common good for the nation.

The SGF said: “I urge you to approach this task with the spirit of commitment, collaboration, and flexibility and Patriotism.

“This Committee carries the hopes and aspirations of millions of Nigerian workers, and its work will be instrumental in shaping the economic landscape of our nation.

“The past year in the life of our nation has been marked by significant economic challenges The removal of fuel subsidy, while a necessary step towards long-term fiscal sustainability, has undoubtedly imposed temporary hardships on many.

“In recognition of these challenges, the government made a commitment to cushion the effects on workers through a wage award, being implemented currently.

“Today, we take another crucial step in fulfilling that promise by embarking on a comprehensive review of the national minimum wage.

“The Minimum Wage Act of 2019 empowers this Tripartite Committee, composed of representatives of government, organized labour, and employers, to engage in open and constructive dialogue to arrive at a fair and sustainable minimum wage.

“This process is not merely about numbers, it is about recognizing the dignity of work and ensuring that all Nigerians have the opportunity to earn a living wage that allows them to meet their basic needs and participate meaningfully in our society.

“In return, the workforce, whether public or private must of necessity, ramp up productivity, in order to sustain whatever would be the outcome of future engagements.

“Your Excellency, the Vice President, your presence to preside over this inauguration underscores the government’s full commitment to this process.

“In due course, the leadership of Mr. President and your good self would be invaluable in guiding the Committee and other stakeholders towards a successful outcome.”

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