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South-East Governors Shun Zonal Public Hearing As Workers Demand N540,000 Minimum Wage

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The governors of the South-East region on Thursday, shunned the zonal public hearing on the National Minimum Wage held at the Nke Lake Hotel in Enugu State. 

The governors are Anambra, Chukwuma Soludo; Abia, Alex Otti; Ebonyi, Francis Nwifuru; Enugu, Peter Mbah and Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma. 

Ugamatv reports that the governor also did not send representatives to the event.

The public hearing was organised by the tripartite committee on national minimum wage to hear from the stakeholders including the governors who are the implementers of the decision of the body.

However, during the hearing the stakeholders proposed N540,000 as minimum wage for Nigerian workers, while advised that minimum wage should to be reviewed every two years irrespective of the economic situation in the country.

They insisted that any governor who failed to implement the minimum wage, should be removed from office as having run foul of the law.

The stakeholders, included the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) the Nigerian Medical Association and the civil society organisations.

According to the Enugu State chairman of the NLC, Comrade Fabian Nwigbo, who spoke on behalf of the five Southeast states, the demand was jointly agreed on by all the members of the union in the Southeast.

He also called for the minimum wage to remain in the exclusive legislative list so that no governor can tamper with it.

Nwigbo disclosed that the union members considered the prices of goods in the country before coming up with the amount. 

He also lamented that till date, some states were yet to pay some of their workers the N30,000 minimum wage, which could no longer afford any useful things for them.

“In 2019 when we were talking about N30,000 minimum wage, a painter of garri was N250. Today, the same measurement is N2500. Within the same period, same measurement for rice was N450, beans, N280 while fuel was N145 per liter. 

“And that N30,000 minimum wage has continued to subsist today when a liter of fuel is N750 and above depending on where you are buying from; a painter of rice is now between N5,000 and N6,000.

“The rent of a two-bedroom flat in Enugu that used to be N250,000 to NN300,000 is now N600,000 to N840,000 per annum only within the suburbs of the City. Those inside the metropolis are N1.2 million and above. Yet, the minimum wage is still N30,000. Every other thing is moving up except the salary of workers.

“Today, we are appealing to the leaders of this country to give us something close to what we can use to subsist.

“Having looked at the daily expenditure of a family of six members (father, mother and four children), we looked at their daily meal to be a mere N2000 per person, which is N12,000 per day and N360,000 per month”, he said.

He also calculated other basic family expenditure without including education and little luxury, to peg the monthly expenditure at N540,000.

“So, a minimum wage of N540,000 will do a little to help the Nigerian worker bear the economic crunch.

“We’re also saying that the minimum wage should be reviewed every two years. The issue of five years is no longer tenable. Let every state and LGA go and implement the wage immediately it comes into effect

“Any LGA chairman, governor, who runs foul of the law should be impeached. Labour is going to ensure that

“This should not only go to the working class but also to pensioners”.

Speaking on behalf of the other Southeast states, the Enugu state chairman of the TUC, Comrade Ben Asogwa, proposed N447,000 to be paid to workers as minimum wage.

He called for the fine payable for not paying the minimum wage be reviewed “because our governors prefer paying fine to paying minimum wage”.

He expressed disgust that none of the Southeast governors not any of their representatives showed presence at the public hearing.

The NMA represented by the Enugu Branch secretary, Dr Sunny Okafor, in its presentation, called for a consequential adjustments to be made while the minimum wage is being considered.

Earlier, the Zonal chairman of the committee and governor of Anambra State, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, who was represented by Comrade Tommy Etim of the TUC, noted that workers wear the shoes and know where they pinch them, and urged them to speak out to enable the government do their own bit.

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