Labour has won its battle for better pay for workers. President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday signed the much-awaited National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Bill into Law.
All workers, excluding those on the payroll of organisations with less than 25 workers, are to benefit from the new minimum wage regime, which took immediate effect.
The bill, which approved N30, 000 as the monthly wage for the least paid worker, was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on March 19, immediately after the National Assembly resumed from recess. The Federal lawmakers had adjourned for the 2019 general elections.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had been pleading with President Buhari to sign the bill before this year’s Workers’ Day.
The President heeded the pleas yesterday as he signed the bill into law.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said the implementation is with immediate effect and it is for all workers across the federation with exception of organisations with less than 25 workers.
Enang said: “You can see me smiling on behalf of Nigerian workers. President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Minimum Wage Repel and Enactment Act 2019.
“This makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay to their workers the sum of N30, 000. And this excludes persons who are employing less than 25 workers, persons who work in a ship which sails out of jurisdiction and other persons who are in other kinds of regulated employment which are accepted by the Act.
“It also gives the workers the rights, if you are compelled by any circumstance to accept salary that is less than N30, 000, to sue your employer to recover the balance and it authorises the minister of Labour and any person nominated by the minister of Labour, or any person designated by the minister of Labour in any ministry, department or agency to on your behalf take action in your name against such employer to recover the balance of your wages.
“It also ensures and mandates National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) and the Minister or Labour, to be the chief and principal enforcers of the provisions of this law. And this law applies to all agencies, persons and bodies throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
On when the Act comes into effect, Enang said: “The effective date is 18th of April, 2019, as Mr. President has assented to it. It has been assented to today (yesterday) and it takes effect today, except such other provisions as are contained in the Act. But the enforcement and the right to start the implementation of the provisions commence today (Thursday), including such steps that are to be taken gradually under the provisions of the Act.”
On what is expected of the workers with the signing of the new law, the presidential aide said: “I want Nigerian workers to celebrate President Muhammadu Buhari, to support this administration, support his policies and, of course, we will as a government go out and match together along with Nigerian workers on workers day.”
Asked if President Buhari will join the workers on May 1 to mark the Workers Day, Enang said: “Mr. President will celebrate with workers and the Federal Government will celebrate. This is Mr. President showing workers the love he has for them and we are matching as we will match with the Nigerian workers.”
Responding to the concern for the inclusion of the National Youth Service Corps, he said. “It covers all persons covered by the Act.”