Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said the new minimum wage act is profuse in the way it has liberalised the idea of seeking for the penalty.
Ngige explained that it does not leave it for the Minister of Labour to enforce as like before, adding that “Now, unions can go to the Industrial Court direct. They can approach the Industrial Court. We have even made it more liberal by saying that a worker who is being denied his minimum wage can go to court.
Ngige, who said this in an interview with Sun Newspaper disclosed that any governor who does not pay the new minimum wage of N30,000 is flouting the law, and nothing says that a state government cannot be taken to court.
He added: “We have also the penalties. Do not forget that when a penalty is given, don’t look at the monetary aspect of the penalty because you can be given a fine or sent to prison or both of them. And no state government would want to be said that the Industrial Court says that the state government should go to prison or give them conjoint fine and conviction to prison. No! So, I know that those governments, which haven’t started paying, it may be due to some internal constraints.
“The consequential adjustment is another kettle of fish. It is different from the minimum wage itself of N30,000. The minimum wage of N30,000 once you pay that minimum wage to the least paid worker in grade-level one step one you have conformed to the law.
“It is now the consequential adjustment for level 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and getting to 17 that a government can negotiate with its joint negotiating council. You don’t need to follow the template done by the federal government. That is our template given our peculiarities. But they can use it as a guide and that is why the federal executive council ordered my ministry and the Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission to send that template down to them as guidance and we have done so. It is left for the state governments to convoke their joint council meetings and discuss. It is tripartite. They must discuss. It is something that emanates from the convention which Nigeria is part of. It is like a collective bargaining agreement, convention 87. So, you must do it.”