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Minimum wage: bill passes first, second readings, sets N27,000 for all workers

THE new minimum wage bill which seeks to increase the workers’ salary from 18000 to 27000 has passed the first and second readings at the Senate on Thursday.

President Muhammadu Buhari has transmitted the draft legislation to the senate earlier on Thursday. deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu who read the president’s letter to the lawmakers called for legislative action on the amendment of the National Minimum Wage Amendment Act 2011 to raise the minimum wage from N18000 to N27000.

The national council of states approved the new minimum wage to be N27,000  on Tuesday at its first meeting in 2019, contrary to the N30,000 for all workers which was recommended by a tripartite committee formed by the representatives of the federal government, governors’ forum, organised private sector and organised federations of trade unions in Nigeria.

The Nigeria labour had rejected the 27,000 naira minimum for state workers, clamouring that all workers— both state and federal— be paid 30 thousand nairas.

Meanwhile, the new minimum wage bill read at the Senate today has not made an exemption to the collection of N27,000. The Senate said the bill made provision of N27,000 minimum to all workers, with no variation between federal and state workers.

“The federal executive council (FEC), National Executive Council, National Council of the state have all noted and approved this recommended amendment,” part of the letter read.

The amendment made an exemption for establishments employing less than 25 persons. It also gave the frequency of five years for a review of the minimum wage.

Mr Ekweremadu in his remarks appreciated his colleagues for the speedy consideration.

“This is possibly the first time in the 8th Senate that we have had cause to read executive communication, suspend our rules to take the first and second reading and be referring a bill to the committee all in one day,” he related.

“It shows how committed we are to a course of Nigerian workers. We are ever prepared to do more.”

He said the minimum wage proposed by the government for the legislative arm is N27,000, against previous reports of N27,000 for the states and N30,000 for the federal government.

“But what we have before us is a single National Minimum Wage of N27,000, no discrimination between the federal workers and the state workers, that point must be made clear,” Ekweremadu said.

He expressed concern to the exemption of organizations employing less than 25 people.  The deputy senate president said if the bill becomes law that means many workers will be outside the minimum wage bracket, which included domestic servants. “In many other countries, minimum wage applies across the board whether you are employing one person or one million people,” he said.

Another concern raised by Ekweremadu at today’s legislative chamber was the ability of states to pay. “That means that they (states) may have to make sacrifices in some areas including cutting the overheads and once you have to step up the internally generated revenues and also make more efforts in collecting collectable taxes, not imposing more taxes. There must be a conscious effort to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor,” he added.

After many contributions, the house set up an ad hoc committee headed by the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Yussuff Lassun, for further legislative action on the bill.

The Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara , in his ruling, mandated the committee to conduct a public hearing on Monday, January 28 and report to the House on Tuesday, January 29 for passage.

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