Paul Obi in Abuja
Following the controversy surrounding the decision by Nasarawa State to reduce the salaries of workers, the federal government warned the Nasarawa State government and other states on Tuesday to desist from reducing workers’ minimum wage.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, gave the warning in Abuja in a move to forestall a rift between the state government and organised labour in the state.
The protracted industrial crisis involving the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nasarawa State Government has led to several protests, resulting in the killing of some workers early this week.
According to Ngige, the federal government had to wade into the matter in order to restore industrial harmony and forestall the breakdown of law and order.
He stated that this was pursuant to the powers invested in him by section 5(1) & (2) of the Trade Dispute Act, Laws of Nigeria, 2004 and also predicated on a letter to the Minister by the Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State for labour conciliation by the ministry.
The minister said: “Similarly, to avoid further escalation of disputes of this type all over the states of the Federation, State Governments are hereby advised to always negotiate any issue that touches on the salaries and wages of workers, in order to ensure that they obtain a Collective Bargaining Agreement (BCA) before these remunerations are tampered with.
“I wish to add for the avoidance of doubt that the issue of minimum wage flows out from the Minimum Wage Act, 2011. It is therefore a law of the land that must be respected by all in both public and private institutions.
“In the same vein, the issue of arbitrary reduction in the hours of work runs against the International Labour Organisation (ILO) regulation; Convention 1, which has been adopted and domesticated by Nigeria. This law prescribes 8 hours of work in a day and not more than 40 hours in a week.”