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NECA cautions stakeholders on review of workers minimum wage

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Olusegun Oshinowo, NECA Director General.

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has urged stakeholders of the labour community and players in the Nigeria Industrial Relations System to be circumspect in their approach to the review of minimum wage for workers.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said it was better for government to review minimum wage now that the country was in recession and not at any other time.

The organsied labour said increase of minimum wage from N18000 to N56000 would help to boost productivity of workers in the country. The Director General of NECA, Olusegun Oshinowo noted that: “There was indeed an understanding that the national minimum wage would be discussed and reviewed after five years.

“In effect, the 2011 agreement should ordinarily be open for discussion in 2016. The clamour for discussions by the NLC and TUC is therefore legitimate.” He added that there was a time-tested and enshrined procedure for the discussion of the minimum wage, which entailed the setting up of a National Minimum Wage Committee comprising representatives of the federal government and anchored by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Also, state governments, usually represented by three governors, private sector employers represented NECA, as well as the NLC and TUC. President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba said: “Although people may argue that clamours for increase in minimum wage was coming at a wrong time, but the constitution provides that it is supposed to be reviewed every five years.

Oshinowo said the issue of procedure should be separated from the substance or subject matter adding that: “It is the responsibility of the Committee to sort out the issue of desirability of a review or sustenance of the status quo in the event that timing for an upward review is inappropriate.”

On the fear in some quarters that opening discussions on the minimum wage would translate to an unsustainable wage increase, he debunked such notion, saying: “The beauty of collective bargaining is the opportunity to come to the table with constructive positions and submissions. The principle of reasonableness and superior argument has always carried the day. Conclusions at the platform would not necessarily be for or against an increase. It would be to examine the need for or against and justifications for whatever positions are canvassed.

On the ability of employers to sustain a new minimum wage level against the backdrop of the economic recession and its attendant effects on businesses, Oshinowo said: “The private sector cannot afford an increase at this point. This is the position the employers will canvass at the National Minimum Wage Committee.

“The priority now should be for all stakeholders to join hands with government to deliver on inclusive growth that will ensure job security and job creation.”



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