Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has urged stakeholders in the socio-labour community and players in the Nigerian Industrial Relations’ System to be circumspect in their pursuit of increased minimum wage.
Its Director-General, Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo, said private operators may not be able to increase wages now.
According to him, economic depression has affected employers and their businesses have nose- dived, causing some to reduce workers or close shop.
He said: “There was indeed an understanding that the national minimum wage would be due for discussion after five years. In effect, the 2011 agreement, ordinarily, should be open for discussion in 2016. The clamour for discussions by the NLC and TUC is therefore legitimate.
“There is a time-tested and enshrined procedure for the discussion of the national minimum wage, which entails the setting up of a National Minimum Wage Committee comprising representatives of the Federal Government, led by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, state governments, usually represented by three state governors, employers in the private sector under the aegis of NECA and organised labour as represented by NLC and TUC”.
Oshinowo said the principle of reasonableness and superior arguments has always carried the day during minimum wage dialogue, and that conclusions at the platform would not necessarily be for or against increase. He said it would be to examine the need for or against and justifications for whatever positions are canvassed.
He said: “the issue of procedure should be separated from the substance or subject. Hence, the imperative to respect procedure should take precedence over substance. It is the responsibility of the committee to sort out the issue of desirability of review or sustenance of status quo in the event that timing for upward review is inappropriate.”
On the fear in some quarters that opening discussions on the national minimum wage will automatically translate into an unsustainable wage increase, he debunked such notion, noting that “the beauty of collective bargaining is the opportunity to come to the table with constructive positions and submissions. The principle of reasonableness and superior arguments has always carried the day. Conclusions at the platform would not necessarily be for or against increase. It would be to examine the need for or against and justifications for whatever positions are canvassed”.
In response to the ability of employers for a new wage level, against the backdrop of the economic recession and its attendant devastating effects on organised businesses, Oshinowo stated that “the private sector cannot afford a pay increase at this point in time. This is the position the employers will canvass at the National Minimum Wage Committee”.
He added: “The priority now should be for all stakeholders to join hands with government to deliver on inclusive growth that will ensure job security and job creation”.
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