By; IYOKPO J. EGBODO, Abuja
The House of Representatives has moved to decentralise the National Minimum Wage scheme, giving chances to states and local government councils to negotiate their respective employees’ emoluments.
Though several members opposed the move, a Bill to that effect however scaled second reading on Tuesday.
Sponsor of the Bill, Hon. Garba Datti said it will amongst other things, transfer the subject matter of minimum wage prescription from the exclusive legislative list as set out under Part II of the Second Schedule of the 1999, Constitution noting that the move would cure the repeated bickering between organized Labour and the government.
According to him, with the national minimum wage law in even in place, several states have not been fully implementing it, and that there have not been sanctions.
Deputy Speaker Idris Wase who is also Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee for the review of the constitution, argued that the Bill should not be passed on grounds that some state governors may abuse such liberty.
The Deputy Speaker was supported by Hon. Aminu Suleiman and Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, who argued that Nigerian workers need to be protected.
Suleiman said; “The concept of collective bargaining is to set a minimum standard. Most of the states that are not paying the current minimum wage is not because they cannot pay, but their failure to prioritize. Some of them prefer to implement while elephant projects. We need to give the workers security”.
However, Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta said Nigerians work and live in different areas of the country, where costs of living also differ, adding that it was time to decentralize the minimum wage.
Also, Chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson cited the United States as an example of where different minimum wages for public servants apply across the states, said there could be no better time than now to pass the proposed amendment.