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Minimum Wage: N57,000 Is A Good Deal For Private Sector, Our Key Objective Is To Protect Jobs, Says Oyerinde

NECA DG Oyerinde has stated that the private sector is proactive, committed and responsive to employee’s welfare.

The Director General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Wale Smatt-Oyerinde, has stated that the newly suggested minimum wage of N57,000 is a good deal for the private sector, adding that their key objective is to protect jobs.

Speaking in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Thursday, Oyerinde stated that the private sector went into the negotiation of minimum wage with the view of increasing unemployment rate, and other many challenges that businesses are facing.

He highlighted that the parameter used for minimum wage is convention 131, which states certain factors to consider when calculating the wage.

 He said, “The convention 131 we all ascribe to, gives certain parameters for the minimum wage which are, the needs of workers in the family, the economic situation, the need for sustainability of enterprises, the need to pay, productivity and cost of living.”

After considering all the factors in convention 131, he stated that what truly determines the minimum wage in the country is the economy.

Prior to the N48,000 offered by the government for minimum wage, the private sector had offered N54,000. Then the government opted its offer to match the private sector with N54,000, but after our meeting on Wednesday, the private sector had to “painfully” opt the figure to N57,000 and the government matched it as well.

Oyerinde, hoping that the organised labour will tally with this new amount said, “We believe in the context of the organised businesses that N57,000 is a good deal for us. We hope our colleagues in the organised labour will reflect and agree to that amount.”

He emphasised the importance of knowing the difference between minimum wage and living wage when discussing the issue of minimum wage.

He stated, ”It is  very important to make the clarification between a minimum wage and a living wage. What we are discussing at the committee level is a minimum wage not a living wage. What we are to agree on is the floor wage, the minimum below which no employer should pay. It is not the maximum wage.”

 He added, “The minimum wage is for the most vulnerable of workers for example an O level graduate that is seeking for employment etc. the idea of the minimum wage is that nobody crosses that line of expectation. The living wage is a bigger concept, we have said that the living wage is desirable but currently at the global level there are no parameters to agree on a living wage unlike we have for a minimum wage which is backed by convention 131.”

Oyerinde revealed that the recommendations that will guide the components of a living wage are part of things that will be discussed in June at the ILO convention.

He explained that the initial proposal of 54,000 by the organised private sector was arrived at “after a lot of considerations and negotiations between the employers and employees in the private sector.”                                                   

“We looked at the realities, affordability and the median of the figure that everybody is currently paying” he added.

He expressed his concerns about the fact that in the 2019 minimum wage that is being reviewed had a penalty for defaulting employers which when implied will create another problem for the national industrial court because of a series of complaints that will come in by employees if the minimum wage is not “realistic.”

Oyerinde clarified that when it comes to employees’ welfare the private sector is “pro active, committed and responsive.”

Nancy Mbamalu

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