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Ensure Minimum Wage Bill Upholds Workers’ Right To Living Wage, SERAP Tells Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu has been told to ensure that his government’s proposed bill on new minimum wage for Nigerian workers is compatible with Nigeria’s international obligations to promote and advance the right of workers to an adequate living wage.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) stated this in a letter dated June 15, 2024 and made available to THE WHISTLER on Sunday.

While the Federal Government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) are proposing N62,000 as new minimum wage, the organised labour comprising of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), is insisting on N250,000.

Tinubu in his Democracy Day address to the nation on June 12, had suggested that the organised labour had agreed on the proposed N62,000, which has since been dismissed by labour leaders.

The president had also said that his government would soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine the new minimum wage as part of the nation’s law for the next five years or less.

But SERAP in the letter said the proposed minimum wage is “grossly inadequate” and falls short of the requirements of international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is signatory to.

The organisation called on Tinubu to ensure that the executive bill reflects the costs of living.

The organisation posited that Nigerian workers face many human rights challenges, adding that most of the people living in poverty work, yet they do not earn a wage sufficient to afford an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families.

The letter signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, read in part: “Any proposed minimum wage that fails to guarantee a life in dignity for Nigerian workers and their families would be entirely inconsistent and incompatible with international standards.

“Successive governments have persistently and systematically violated these guarantees. Millions of Nigerian workers remain poor due mainly to low wages and a lack of social security and social protection.

“If your government sends to the National Assembly any bill which fails to meet the requirements of international standards, and the bill is then passed into law, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.

“The proposed recommendations are not unrealistic, as they are based on Nigeria’s international human rights obligations. Human rights are not a matter of charity. Upholding Nigeria’s international obligations regarding the right of workers to an adequate living wage would protect the purchasing power of workers in poverty.

“The preparation of the executive bill provides you and your government an important opportunity to respect, protect, promote and advance the rights of Nigerian workers to an adequate living wage and fair remuneration.

“We urge you to take concrete steps to defend the rights of Nigerian workers to an adequate living wage.

“This would ensure that the proposed executive bill protects not only against absolute poverty but also against relative poverty, as a source of social exclusion.

“Your government has legal obligations to reflect these guarantees in any executive bill on the new minimum wage to be sent to the National Assembly.

“The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights imposes clear legal obligations on your government to ensure and uphold the right of Nigerian workers to an adequate living wage that would ensure a decent standard of living for the workers and their families.

“We urge you to put the country’s resources at the service of human rights, and to advance Nigerian workers’ right to an adequate living wage by immediately cutting the cost of governance and implementing bold transparency and accountability measures in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).”

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