THE legislative backing over the battle for the actualisation of N30,000 new minimum wage by Organised Labour, has been given a major boost after members of the House of Representatives, at their Tuesday sitting set the new National Minimum Wage as N30,000.
Labour will now shift its battle and lobby to the Senate for it to concur with the House of Representatives. Once the Senate passes the N30,000 minimum wage Act into law, both chambers will harmonise if there are differences before returning the act to the president for assent. Recall that members of the House reached the decision on the N30,000 a day after conducting a public hearing on the bill for a new national minimum wage.
The lawmakers at the Tuesday plenary considered the report of the ad hoc committee that looked at the bill clause by clause. Passing the bill for the third reading on Tuesday, the lawmakers unanimously approved the N30,000 recommendation by the committee in consonance with the resolution by the tripartite committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari. Mr Buhari in a letter read to the lawmakers by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, urged the amendment of the National Minimum Wage Amendment Act 2011 to raise the minimum wage payable to a Nigerian worker from N18,000 to N27,000.
A tripartite committee set up by the government recommended N30,000, but the Council of State later accepted that figure for federal workers and recommended N27,000 for state and private sector workers. The three labour centres in the country; Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, however, rejected the N27,000 and insisted on N30,000 as the minimum for all workers.
The lawmakers also resolved that the bill would be effective the day it is assented to by the president. They also increased the penalty for failure to pay the minimum wage from N5,000 to N75,000. The Senate is expected to concur with the recommendations of the House when it returns from the elections break before transmitting it to the president. Mr Dogara had during the public hearing on the minimum wage said the N30,000 minimum wage being canvassed is barely enough as it cannot feed a small family unit. He said that it is only when workers are dignified with wages that can provide them minimum comfort that their productivity level will increase.