Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government maintained, yesterday, that payment of the new wage started from April 18, when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Minimum Wage Amendment Act Bill into law.
This was even as it declared that no governor in the 36 states of the Federation will renege on paying the new N30,000 minimum wage.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige gave the clarification, at the weekend during an interactive session with newsmen in Abuja.
Ngige reiterated that all employers of labour in the country must comply with the law, which is a national law, and noted that a committee is working out a new template for upward consequential adjustment for those already earning above N30,000.
The former lawmaker, who described negotiation for a new minimum wage as tortuous, advised employers of labour, especially those who have not started implementation of the new law, to do so in order to avoid accumulating arrears.
Said Ngige: “It is a national law and no governor can say he will not pay. (The) national minimum wage is Item 34 on the Exclusive Legislative List, of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
“Issue of labour is also there and not on the Concurrent List. If it is on the Concurrent List, then, they can make their own state Assembly laws on that. Every state government is now owing workers if they have not started paying N30,000.
“They (employers) are owing workers, effective from 18th of April, a new minimum wage.
“We are now in a committee working out a new template with which we will adjust upward the consequential adjustment upstairs for those already earning above N30,000.
“The minimum wage is for the most vulneerable down the ladder and that is the man on Grade Level 1, Step 1.
“So, you must consequentially adjust for the man on Grade Level 2, Grade Level 3, Grade Level 4 and 5, because, that man on GL 1 step 1 has over taken them with his new payment.
“That is what we refer to as consequential adjustment. This consequential adjustment touches more the people on the lower ladder and we are working it out. The negotiation is going to be with the Joint Negotiating Council, at both the federal and at the state level.
“What we are trying to do now, with the Salaries and Wages Commission is that we have a technical committee working out what the federal government will do for their workers and advice the state government, appropriately.
“In 2011, there was a mistake in the consequential adjustment in some states, when they applied the principle of percentage increase across board and they ran into trouble and were unable to pay. What this N30,000 translates into is that there is a 67 percent increase.
“If a state government applies the same 67 percent increase across board, there will be serious trouble. The same with the federal government and when there is that trouble, there will be trade dispute because the Principle of Ability to Pay will come in and the International Labour Organisation encourages us to apply that principle in our discussion.
“If I am unable to pay and my workers know that I am unable to pay, we will sit down and agree on what I am able to pay. So, there is a baseline now as no worker in Nigeria should earn anything less than N30,000 provided that the establishment has more than 25 workers.”