The Labour Unions are set for a showdown with state governments that may not be ready for immediate implementation of the new minimum wage.
Officials said on Tuesday that after securing an agreement with the Federal Government, it is now time to get the states to key into the implementation. But many states are not financially healthy.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Ayuba Wabba said Labour would, among other actions, take states that fail to implement the wage law to court.
The NLC President decried increasing reluctance of employers to allow unionisation in workplaces.
This, he said, has resulted in indecent conditions, “slave wages, long hours of work without due compensation, and denial of social security cover.”
Delivering his speech at the retreat, Wabba said: “Comrades, I must congratulate all of us for the recent upward adjustment in salaries consequent on the new national minimum wage.
“Our collective diligence and persistence will put smiles on the faces of millions of Nigerian workers and take many families out of poverty.
“But, I must charge us that it is not yet Uhuru. We call on all our State Councils to offer the needed leadership and work harmoniously with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) to ensure effective implementation of the new national minimum wage and consequential salary adjustment, which must be reached through a process of collective bargaining.
“While commending state governments that have already commenced implementation of the new national minimum wage, we urge that the implementation should be a product of collective bargaining process in line with ILO Convention 98 on Organising and Collective Bargaining.
“We also implore all employers of labour to ensure that the necessary formalities for smooth implementation of the negotiated salaries based on the new national minimum wage are carried out diligently.”
NLC General Secretary Emmanuel Ugbaoja said: “Our people have a mandate to go and negotiate with an open mind and hoping that every state will open their books. We don’t expect that anybody will disobey the law of the land.
“We expect them to be reasonable in the way they (state governments) will do the consequential adjustment. We will take every issue as it comes along.
“We won’t balance now and begin to threaten brimstone and fire. We will consider all options, but we are not going to start with threats.
“We are going to negotiate with an open mind. Whatever hand they bring will determine how we will respond.”
Asked if labour expects state governments to adopt the same template agreed at the federal level, he said: “We have taken precedence. Some state governors will do better, some will do equally a little below.
“It depends on the chief executive and what his priorities are and how seriously he takes his work as a governor and what resources are available to him. So, it varies.
“Some will do better than the Federal Government, some will do as good as the Federal Government and some will do slightly below the Federal Government.”
Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi promised that his administration would prioritise workers’ welfare.
He said: “Enugu State workers will get a better deal in the implementation of the consequential increase in the minimum wage.”