Why labour must enforce implementation of minimum wage, by Odah
The organised labour movement must embark on a state-by-state campaign to enforce the implementation of the national minimum wage, the Executive Secretary of Organisation of Trade Union of West Africa (OTUWA), John Odah has said.
Odah, who stated this while speaking at the opening of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, which held recently in Abuja, lauded a former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Adams Oshiomhole for embarking on national struggles to enforce minimum wage in the past.
Odah argued that getting state governments to implement the national minimum wage has always been a product of struggle, which the present crop of labour leaders must sustain.
He added: “We all have the responsibility of asking if the N30,000 is paid by most state governments. We should ask. Why put so much effort into getting the tripartite consensus of N30,000 if it will not be implemented by the state government? The initial demand of workers was almost N60,000 which was then brought down almost halfway through negotiation with government representatives that had representatives from all the state governments, employers and small businesses, as well as the workers. They were all on the table to negotiate where an agreement of N30,000 was reached. Why is this not implemented across the board in all the states?”
He recalled how tortuous the implementation of minimum wage law has always been, saying: “We all remember that shortly before the civilian rule, there was a minimum wage of N3,500 which the then leadership of the NLC, under Oshiomhole, had to go from state to state to enforce its implementation.
“Even when he got the first minimum wage under Obasanjo’s presidency, its implementation was enforced. The history of the minimum wage had the enforcement component except for the current one. There can be exceptions that must be based on negotiation. But total refusal to implement and labour’s lethargic response of helplessness is completely alien to the movement.”