Decentralised Minimum Wage: ‘How Hypocritical These Governors Are’ – Labour

The ongoing debate over the structure of workers’ salaries in Nigeria has reached a new peak, as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) issued a stern warning to state governors advocating for the decentralisation of salaries.

Speaking from the 112th International Labour Conference in Geneva, NLC President, Joe Ajaero, in a chat with Daily Sun, condemned the governors’ proposal, which he argued contrasts sharply with the centralized nature of their own salaries.

“If governors want decentralised salaries for workers, they should first accept decentralised salaries for themselves from the Federal Government,” Ajaero argued, highlighting a perceived double standard in the governors’ stance.

The proposal for decentralised salaries, according to the governors, is aimed at allowing states to determine salaries based on their financial capabilities and economic realities.

However, the NLC fears this could lead to significant disparities in worker wages across the country, potentially undermining national standards for worker welfare.

Speaking against the backdrop of the ongoing minimum wage negotiation and states reaction on affordability, Ajaero said: “The governors from states where you even get nothing are still earning the same salary as governors that you’re getting billions from. So, how hypocritical those states governors could be?”

The Labour leader said he does not know what the governors mean by decentralisation of wages.

“Is it the source of payment? Is it coming from their purse? What are they actually saying, because minimum wage is like having a uniform law in the country? Are they now saying give us the right to run a kind of confederate system of government or permission to run a unitary system of government so that whatever we generate we spend it?”

He explained that if everything goes into a federation account and the governors also draw allocation from the federation account, the Federal Government has the exclusive right to determine what should be the minimum wage in the country.

Ajaero said it could be detrimental to the country if every employer of labour is allowed to set the minimum wage.

The NLC boss said every governor has the capacity to generate revenue to pay a competitive salary without waiting for money from the federation account. “Let them tell us, we will tell them how and where they can get money from their states. It’s not about waiting on the Federal Government to collect money.”

The Acting Director of Media Affairs and Public Relations of the Governor’s Forum, Halima Ahmed, in a statement, had said governors could not afford to pay a minimum wage of ₦60,000.

According to her, implementing such a wage increase would exhaust many states’ monthly allocations from the Federation Account solely on paying workers’ salaries.

But this NLC said was unfounded, given the significant increase in allocations from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), which has surged from ₦700 billion to ₦1.2 trillion.

The NLC believed that state governors are extravagant and need to cut down on many of their outrageous and frivolous spendings and reduce corruption.

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