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House Passes National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Bill

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday, 29 January, 2019 passed a National Minimum Wage Bill seeking to increase the pay received by Nigerian workers in public service from the current N18,000 to N30,000. If enacted into law, the Bill will repeal the National Minimum Wage Act of 1981 and enact new legislation that prescribes a framework for the review of workers salaries every 5 years.

The Bill establishes a “Tripartite Committee” consisting of a Chairman, Secretary, 12 government representatives and organised labour groups who are appointed by the President to make recommendation on the National Minimum Wage. It also enables aggrieved workers, Trade Unions and the Minister of Labour to seek enforceability of its provisions through redress in the National Industrial Court among other alternatives.

The House decision to increase the minimum wage from the N27,000 that was proposed by the Executive at its transmittal on 23rd January, 2019 to N30,000 may have been in response to objections by organised labour groups who were aggrieved that the Executive back tracked from its earlier agreement to propose N30,000 to the National Assembly. Prior to the Executive’s transmittal of the Bill and its meeting with the National Council of States, a Tripartite Committee on Review of National Minimum Wage had recommended that N30,000 would be paid for workers in the country. However, deliberations at the House plenary session on the 24th of January 2019 (where the Bill passed first and second reading stage in the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively) and its public hearing on Monday, 28 January 2019 indicated that both chambers were likely to increase the proposed minimum wage to meet workers expectations.

Yet, despite passage by the House of Representatives, it appears that public workers will have to exercise patience as Senate’s adjournment on Tuesday 22 January 2019 to 19 February 2019 only implies that the proposed legislation will be prioritised after the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for 16 February 2019.