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ASCSN cautions against moving minimum wage law to concurrent list

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
13 January 2022   |   2:47 am
Relocation of the national minimum wage law from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list will encourage non-payment of salaries by many state governments

Seeks institutionalisation of ‘no pay, no work’ policy

Relocation of the national minimum wage law from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list will encourage non-payment of salaries by many state governments, the National President of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Dr Tommy Okon, has said.  

   
Okon, who stated this in Abuja while speaking to The Guardian, said under the current dispensation, which makes payment of minimum wage compulsory, many state governors hide under low federal allocation to deny workers their salaries for months.   
    
He explained: “The fact that the national minimum wage is under the exclusive legislative list implies that all employers of labour in Nigeria must comply with it. That is the position of the law. However, it is worrisome that this law is not implemented fully, especially by some state governments. Going by the maxim that a worker deserves his or her wage within the context of the ‘no work no pay’ slogan by the government, those in authority never consider ‘no pay, no work’.”
   
He further argued that since government and employers of labour are quick to implement ‘no work, no pay’ when labour unions embark on industrial action, the time has come for the government to also institutionalise ‘no pay’ no work’ policy.
 
  
He berated some state governors that have declined to faithfully implement the national minimum wage, describing them as ‘lord unto themselves.  
    
“Some state governments have become recalcitrant on the payment of minimum wage. Indeed, they have become a law unto themselves. Even when they were part and parcel of the minimum wage negotiations, they still did not find it expedient to pay workers their wages.”
   
Dr Okon pointed the attention of those clamouring for the relocation of the law to the concurrent list to thread softly, saying, “For those that are clamouring that minimum wage should be moved to concurrent legislative list, this is a lesson for them to note that once the wage is moved to the concurrent list, most workers at the state level might not receive their salaries for many years. Some states are still paying N18,000 as I speak. This is most unfortunate.
    
“It is even more worrisome when one takes into account the number of personal assistants some of these governors have. Many of them have more than 100 Personal Assistants (PAs). This clearly shows that payment of salaries has become political settlements. We believe that the problem of this country is the governors.”
    
He further held that the brazen manner some state governors refused to implement the national minimum wage does not portray labour as helpless over the situation.    

He said: “The non-payment of minimum wage does not necessarily show that labour is helpless as far as the issue is concerned. Labour has its weapon, which is the withdrawal of services. These governors have their children in private schools or have their school abroad. The most annoying aspect is that when their children come back, they will have choice jobs thereby preparing them to take over the mantle of leadership.

   
“So, in this case, we have cannibalistic leaders that prey on the future of the poor to the advantage of their children. We have a situation where their children are progressing while workers cannot pay their children’s school fees because their salaries are not paid as at when due. So, there are two classes of citizens – one that attends qualitative schools and the others are unable to pay school fees even in public schools because their parents are not receiving their salaries. What they have is the class division that is cleverly weaved against the poor. Labour is not helpless but it is a concern because if we shut down the system, what about the economic effects vis a vis financial loss to the government?”
  
Dr Okon urged the Federal Government to persuade the state governments to implement the law to the latter.
    
“If a state like Jigawa can pay minimum wage with its low revenue base, there can be no justification for any state governor in Nigeria not to fully implement the national minimum wage law. We have our strategies and we are watching the political gladiators as elections draw nearer,” he stated.

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