Governors: We Can't Pay New Minimum Wage ...Meet NLC on payment of salary arrears

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Governors of the 36 states of the federation have said they are not opposed to the ongoing plans to approve a new minimum wage but that they lacked the capacity to pay.

However, the governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have commenced a move to ensure that all salary arrears owed by states are cleared.

At its meeting last Wednesday night in Abuja, the governors met with the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, to seek ways of getting debtor states to offset arrears of workers’ salaries using the monies from the outstanding Paris Club refund.

The Chairman of the NGF and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said the governors are in support of negotiating a new minimum wage but that the issue is the ability or resources to take care of the agreed minimum wage.

According to him, "We made it very clear that we are not against any upward review of salaries.  We are in tandem with the NLC to get minimum wage reviewed. But the problem of the states is the capacity to pay what is agreed. As we are talking today, we are struggling to pay the N18,000 minimum wage."
Yari said as at present, some of the states are paying 35 per cent upward;  some 50 per cent and some states have salary arrears. 

He said: "So if we are going to review it up, it is not about only reviewing it, but how are we are going to get the resources to cater for it?"

On the other hand, NLC has said the organised labour remained resolute in its quest to actualise a new minimum wage.

Wabba, who spoke to journalists regarding the position of the governors, said the approval of new minimum wage had been long overdue, adding that the challenges of harsh economy have affected the purchasing power of the Nigerian workers.
He said: "Our position has remained consistent with the challenge in the economy, especially the virtual erosion of the purchasing power of Nigerian workers which occasioned by many factors.
"The N18, 000 minimum wage by law is also supposed to be reviewed as far back as 2016.”

The tripartite committee negotiating a possible new minimum wage regime has almost concluded its assignment but for the non-agreement by the stakeholders over a definite figure for the wage rise.

Amounts ranging from N20, 000, N24,000 to N30,000 have been proposed by states, federal government and NLC respectively.


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