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The House of Representatives said yesterday it was time to review upwards the National Minimum Wage of workers.
The call came against the background of the Monday celebration of the International Labour Day.
The lawmakers, who appreciated Nigerian workers for their commitment and duties, emphasised that the National Minimum Wage should reflect the country’s current economic realities.
The resolution of the House was sequel to the passage of a motion tilted: “Need to appreciate the efforts and resilience of Nigerian workers in commemoration of the May Day Celebration,” brought under matter of urgent national importance and sponsored by a member, Ezenwa Onyewuchi.
The House thereafter mandated its committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity to interface with relevant stakeholders on how to ameliorate the plight of the workers and to report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.
Onyewuchi, while arguing the motion, noted that workers have been adversely affected by the economic recession, which, he said, has led to “massive depreciation of workers’ purchasing power, job losses, unpaid salaries and benefits”.
The process of reviewing the minimum wage, he said, should commence immediately, to ameliorate the economic hardship the workers were passing through.
The lawmaker said the resolve of the average Nigerian worker was being tested with the inability of government at all levels and private sector to address issues of workers’ welfare, under employment, casualisation, delayed salaries and pay-cuts.
Supporting the motion, Sunday Karimu, (PDP, Kogi) said workers are unhappy, particularly in the states, as they are being owed many months’ salaries.
He described as sad the fact that after receiving the bailout fund from the Federal Government and the Paris Club refund, workers’ salaries are still not paid by some state governors.
“Workers are not happy. Many workers are owed salaries. In some states especially, Kogi State, workers are been owed 15 months’ salary. Workers are denied their salaries. Pensioners are not paid. Something has to be done in some of these states where government has refused to pay workers,” he said.
Another member, Johnson Agbonayiman, said some state governors instead of paying workers’ salaries put bail out funds their private accounts.
Wale Raji (APC Lagos), in his contribution, said an upward review of the minimum wage was long overdue and advised that it be done “in a way that the average worker will have a sense of satisfaction”.
Toby Okechukwu, while supporting the motion, said: “If government was responsive and responsible, it will waste no time in bringing the Minimum Wage Bill to the parliament.”
The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, hailed workers for their resilience and contribution to nation-building.
He noted that the House had passed the Consumer Protection Bill and that it would improve the working condition of workers, if signed into law.