Ngige Speaks on Governors Defaulting Minimum Wage
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said all governors yet to pay the new minimum wage to workers in their states are breaching the law of the land.
He stated this during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politic., According to him, any employer who pays its employee below N30,000 was doing so in contravention of the law.
“If you read the Act well, you will see the applicability of the Act. The applicability is that all parts of the Federation (Section II); Section III also says N30,000 shall be paid, the operating word is shall.
“It does not give room for picking and choosing, it is a must. The state governors that are not paying are breaching the law of the land,” the minister said.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had signed the Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act, 2019 into law on April 18, 2019.
The Act tasked employers of labour in the country to pay a minimum of N30,000 to their workers giving them the opportunity to sue their employer if their salary is less than the amount and recover the balance.
It also gives the Minister of Labour and any person nominated or designated by the minister the authority to take action against such an employer on behalf of the worker and recover the balance of the wages.
This however does not include employers of less than 25 workers, persons who work in a ship that sails out of jurisdiction, and others in other kinds of regulated employment that are accepted by the Act.
It is worthy to note that two years after the President signed the act to law, some states are yet to comply with the act.
The Minister of Labour and Employment has reacted to governors negotiating with the labour unions in their states over the payment of the minimum wage to workers.
He noted that they are getting the issues mixed up as the minimum wage is different from the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
According to him, “This is a national law that states what you will pay to the lowest-paid employee (worker) in your establishment; state governments are employers… they are caught in the web of this law until repealed.
“Any state government or employer that negotiates minimum wage like some of them are doing with their unions, they are running afoul of the law,” the minister stated.
The minister who responded what his next action would be for erring governors said, “I am negotiating with the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF); the law permits me to take them to court.
“I can take any employer to court. If governors have immunity, I can start from the secretary to the government, to the head of the service, and go down to the State Executive Council; take them all to court and I do not need any permission.”