Reps Divided Over Bill To Allow States Pay Minimum Wage

The House of Representatives split up on Tuesday over a bill that sought to allow states determine the amount to be paid as minimum wage to its workers.

Currently, the Federal Government regulates the national minimum wage for workers across the three levels of government across the country.

However, the bill seeks an amendment that would remove matters related to wages from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the proposed law, Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, and some other lawmakers said workers would mostly bear the brunt as some states are not even willing to pay the current N30,000 minimum wage.

He added that they would take advantage of the law to inflict more pain on workers.

The legislation is titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to, Among Others, Transfer the Subject Matter of Minimum Wage Prescription from the Exclusive Legislative List Set Out Under Part I of the Second Schedule to the Concurrent Legislative List Set Out Under Part II of the Second Schedule to the Constitution; and for Related Matters.’

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However, the sponsor of the bill, Mr Garba Datti Muhammad, argued that states should fix their minimum wage based on the available resources.

He said, “The resources available to the states also differ and while some states may be able to afford the national minimum wage, others may not. Within the states, the resources available to the local government councils also vary but they are also subjected to the national minimum wage.

“This decentralisation of the prescription of the minimum wage does not shut the door on labour from negotiating. What it means is that labour will have to negotiate with each state to ensure that the minimum wage in each state is reasonable in the circumstances of that state.”

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