The Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Dr. Salihu Lukman, has said that there are lots of distortions in the current minimum wage debate being championed by the Nigeria Labour Congress.
He said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja, adding that there was a need to correct the distortions to set the records straight.
According to Lukman, the NLC campaign on retaining the minimum wage on the exclusive list was based on deliberate distortions of facts.
The NLC is campaigning for the retention of minimum wage in the exclusive legislative list under the amended 1999 Constitution.
The NLC claims that moving minimum wage from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list would contravene the provision of the International Labour Organisation Convention, which Nigeria is a signatory to.
Lukman, however, noted that ILO convention No. 30 of 1928 Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Recommendation provides the guiding principles for the determination of minimum wages in all countries.
He said the convention never stipulated that the process should be the exclusive preserve of federal authorities.
The PGF DG added that the convention allowed for flexibility for each country to apply the guiding principles to its circumstances through consultative processes, taking into consideration all interests in the country’s labour market.
Lukman said one of the distortions that needed to be corrected was that the proposal to transfer minimum wage to the concurrent legislative list was not to stop the payment of N30,000 minimum wage.
He said: “Although, many state governments and private employers are having difficulty implementing the N30,000 minimum wage, we should separate the problems associated with implementing agreements from the bigger challenge of correcting wrong procedure used in fixing minimum wage in the country.
“Problems of implementing agreements can be addressed with reference to invoking provisions of Nigerian arbitration laws, which is what ILO Convention 30 of 1928 recommends.”
Lukman stressed that it was important that these distortions were corrected, and that the country`s democracy must be insulated from distortions and falsehood.
He noted that globally, in compliance with the provisions of the ILO convention, two approaches are adopted by ILO member countries in fixing minimum wages.
This, he said, includes the committee method, which involves government setting up committee to undertake enquiries and make recommendations for fixing minimum wage, and the notification method based on government publishing proposals in official gazettes to inform affected persons.