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In 1981, the minimum wage was more than $125; today, it is less than $60 – NLC

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has slammed Nigerian politicians for being insensitive to the plight of the country’s workforce.

During an interview with Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, NLC President Ayuba Wabba said that the minimum wage in 1981 was more than $125 and that it is now less than $60.

“In 1981, Shagari established the first minimum wage, which was more than $125. Because of our economy’s deterioration, it is now worth less than $60,” he said.

“Instead of appreciating, praising, and compensating jobs, this crop of politicians, those who are not compensating, are not people who care about Nigerians or our system.”

According to the NLC chief, Nigeria’s current index cannot accommodate an average worker, noting that a bag of rice costs N30,000.

Though acknowledging that workers are in a “very sad condition,” Wabba claims that some state governments do not prioritise the welfare of their employees.

On May 3, 2021, NLC President Ayuba Wabba speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

In relation to the minimum wage, the labour leader threatened a strike in states where governors have yet to enforce the proposal.

“Today, more than one-third of the states are not paying,” he said. Some have actually adopted Levels 1-6. It’s not only a shortage of resources; it’s also a question of whether they care about the well-being of their employees.

“If that is the case, how can a state like Rivers be talking about workers’ welfare up to now?” This is the real problem. Governors that are nice are not in the same league.

Wabba’s comments came just hours after the Minister of Labour and Jobs, Dr Chris Ngige, chastised governors for failing to pay employees in their states the new minimum wage.

Ngige said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics that any employer who pays its employees less than N30,000 is breaking the law.

“If you read the Act carefully, you can see the Act’s applicability. The applicability is that it applies to all sections of the Federation (Section II); Section III also states that N30,000 must be billed, with the operating word being shall.

“There is no place for discretion; it is a requirement. State governors who do not pay are breaking the rules, according to the minister.

On April 18, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act, 2019 into law.

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