Due to the uncertainty surrounding the presentation of the 2019 budget proposal, the organized labour and related stakeholders have demanded the inclusion of the N30,000 minimum wage in the proposal.
The tripartite committee in charge of the minimum wage negotiations had recommended the figure of N30,000 as the new minimum wage whilst presenting it to the president.
On Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed concern at the poor state of the economy, telling governors to tighten their belts in preparation for harder times ahead.
Consequently, with the budget presentation coming next week, there are feelers that the state governors are anxious because if the president includes the new minimum wage in the budget, it will imply that he has given his blessing to the payment of N30,000 as minimum wage.
Although, the president is yet to send an Executive Bill on the new minimum wage to the National Assembly, the organized labour has insisted on the incorporation of the new salary scheme into the 2019 budget.
President of the United Labour Congress (ULC), Joe Ajaero, spoke to the media on Saturday regarding this issue.
“We expect the budget to be crafted bearing in mind the fact that Nigerian workers working within the tripartite process have agreed on N30,000 as a new minimum wage but which is awaiting submission to the NASS for passage into law.
“We, therefore, expect this budget to capture the increased expense that must accrue as a result.”
He further explained that the 2019 budget should reflect the current realities affecting the Nigerian workers, especially dwindling purchasing power due to inflation.
“This is critical if the increasing inventories in the various warehouses of manufacturers and other businesses can be reduced so as to stimulate economic growth and thus create more employment in the economy,” he said.
The ULC president explained that the most critical way to do this is to capture in this budget transfers to workers in the form of a reviewed minimum wage as agreed by the Tripartite Committee.
“We expect this budget to be proactive in this direction if it is serious about achieving its objective of growing the economy.”
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, also agreed with Ajaero saying that Nigerian workers expect the federal government to give priority to minimum wage as it prepares the 2019 budget.
He said, “Nigerian workers should not suffer the consequences of what they are not responsible for. You will recall when the economy is doing well, nobody cares about the workers.
“When the economy is not doing well, workers are at the receiving end. In most cases, they are not paid. Our expectation is that since there is commitment, the minimum wage should be given priority.
On the possibility that the governors will reject the new wage, he said, “Our expectation is that they know the reality; they must agree to pay the minimum wage. It’s not about resources; it is about the will to pay. In the midst of recession, Edo State governor increased the minimum wage from N18, 000 to N25,000.”