Ikeja - Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State,
has urged labour unions not to oppose plans by the National Assembly
to decentralise the fixing and payment of minimum wage.
He gave the advice in Ikeja on Friday while inaugurating the South West Zonal Office of the National Pensions Commission (NPC).
The governor explained that decentralisation of minimum wage was the
best for true federalism, saying that states should not be compelled to
pay wage fixed by the Federal Government in a democracy.
On Sept. 18, workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress
(NLC), stormed the National Assembly to protest the attempt by the
legislature to remove minimum wage from the exclusive list.
Gov. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo, who led the protest, claimed that the
attempt amounted to politicisation of workers` compensation, saying it
would empower State Governments to pay workers any amount.
But Fashola said, "I think the time has come for us to speak openly
and honestly for what we believe in. We may disagree but we should try
and agree at the end of the day.
"The labour union has a position on the decentralisation of the minimum wage, perhaps they would listen to another position.
"For us, it is not who makes the law that matters, it is whether or not the Nigerian worker gets a fair pay for a hard job.
"Who makes the law and who has the responsibility to manage it only detracts us from the main issue.
"If we are decentralising the management of pensions and it is making sense, why can’t we decentralise payment of wages?
"This is a federation; payment of wages should not be imposed on the states.’’
The governor advised labour to dialogue with appropriate government
authorities to reach agreement on the issue, adding that incessant
protests were inimical to development.
On his part, Gov Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, insisted that in a
democracy, states could fix their own minimum wage irrespective of he
fact that the central government had fixed its own.
He argued that imposition of a national minimum wage was not in the
interest of labour, adding that it might discourage states who wished to
reward workers from doing so.
"If we are truly a federal entity, states should also have a minimum
wage at the state level, rather than the imposed minimum wage.
"I remember that at the early stage of our independence, workers in
the Western Region left the federal public service to work in the state
public service because the salaries were higher.
He described the Contributory Pension Scheme as `the best thing’ to
have happened to the welfare of workers in the country, saying it was
structured to guarantee security of pensioners.
Fayemi said that Ekiti had not only signed the Pension Act, but had also gone ahead to establish its pension commission.
He that the state would transit to the contributory before the end of the year.
In his remarks, Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, urged the National
Assembly to expedite action on the amendment of the Pension Act to
address some of the inherent challenges.
He attributed the N13 billion pension arrears his administration inherited, to the imperfections of the old scheme.
Amosun expressed his optimism that the transition to the new scheme would ensure pensioners were paid as at when due.
The Acting Director-General of the NPC, Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, said
that the new South-West Zonal Office would facilitate efficient
management of workers’ pensions.