Labour to Govs: It is illegal to reduce workers’ pay, work hours unilaterally

downloadThe Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has described as illegal the decision by some state governors to reduce workers’ remunerations and hours of work without their input and consent.

Ngige said such decision breaches the Minimum Wage Act 2011 and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) regulation Convention 1, warned affected governors against proceeding with the the case.

In a statement issued by Samuel Olowokere, deputy director press in the ministry, the minister said the warning was necessary to restore industrial harmony and forestall breakdown of law and order.

He said the warning followed protracted industrial crisis involving the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nasarawa State Government.

The minister said the step was pursuant to the powers invested in him by section 5(1) and (2) of the Trade Dispute Act, Laws of Nigeria, 2004.

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He said this was also predicated on a letter to him by Gov. Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State for the ministry to help resolve labour crisis in the state.

The minister said all parties had been invited for a crucial meeting on Wednesday by 2 p.m. at the Ministry of Labour.

He said, “Sequel to this, I hereby direct the unions to suspend the proposed picketing of government offices and demonstrations.

“I enjoin all parties to maintain the status quo ante pending the outcome of the meeting intended to resolve the issues in dispute.

“Similarly, to avoid further escalation of disputes of this type all over the states of the federation, state governments are hereby advised to always negotiate any issue that touches on the salaries and wages of workers.

“This is in order to ensure that they obtain a Collective Bargaining Agreement (BCA) before these remunerations are tampered with.

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“I wish to add for the avoidance of doubt that the issue of minimum wage flows from the Minimum Wage Act, 2011,” he said.

Mr. Ngige said the law of the land must be respected by all in both public and private institutions.

He, however, said the issue of arbitrary reduction in the hours of work was against the International Labour Organisation (ILO) regulation; Convention 1, which had been adopted and domesticated by Nigeria.

He said the law prescribes eight hours of work in a day and not more than 40 hours in a week.

Mr. Ngige added that the caution had become necessary to draw the attention of all concerned to these issues in order to avoid unnecessary industrial relations disputes that could be averted through proactive dialogue. (NAN)