Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister in charge of Labour and Employment ministry has urged state governments and other employers of labour to start the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage without delay.
He said the immediate implementation of new salary regime remained the only way avoid a huge backlog of arrears that will likely create labour unrest for them.
Ngige also advised the states to avoid the mistake they made in 2011 when they carried out percentage increase across board for workers, thereby placing them in a position of not being able to pay wages, adding that “any state that does percentage increase will put itself in a disadvantaged position as it will not be able to pay.”
The minister told reporters that no state governor can refuse to implement the minimum wage being a national law, adding that the earlier they start the implementation, the better it will be for them.
Ngige said with the signing of the new minimum wage bill into law by the President, the new wage now takes effect from the April 18, 2019, adding that “any employer of labour that has not commenced the payment is already owing workers arrears of the new wage.”
The former senator said: “The minimum wage was one of the products of the technical committee that worked on the palliatives as a result of the increase in pump price of PMS.
“We were the anchor ministry and I led the government delegation comprising about seven ministers, the National Salaries and Wages Commission and the state government.”
Reminded that state governors were complaining of inability to pay the new wage, Ngige said: “it is a national law and no governor can say he will not pay. Issue of national minimum wage is item 34 on the exclusive legislative list in the third schedule of the Nigerian constitution. Issue of labour is also there and not on the concurrent list. If it is on the concurrent list, then they can make their own state Assembly laws on that.
“Any state government that has not started implementation of the new minimum wage is now owing workers’ especially if they have not started paying N30, 000. They are owing workers effective from 18th of April, the new minimum wage.
“We are now in a committee working out a new template with which we will adjust the consequential adjustment upstairs for those already earning above N30, 000.”