Minimum Wage: As NLC Pays Eleven Months’ Arrears, Staff Unsure of Outstanding 31 Months’


A number of employees of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have expressed fears that the leadership at the National Secretariat of Nigeria’s foremost trade union centre may have resolved to pay only 11 out of the 42 months’ arrears arising from the consequential adjustment on the new national minimum wage of thirty thousand naira, National Record can authoritatively report.

Comrade Wabba, NLC President.

It will be recalled that employees of NLC have, since the passage of the N30,000 minimum wage by the National Assembly and subsequent assent into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 18, 2018, been agitating for the implementation of the new wage as had been the tradition in NLC after every new national minimum wage legislation.

However, the implementation had faced a brick wall as staff alleged that the leadership of the National Secretariat of NLC had mounted an administrative roadblock by which the issue of implementation of the new wage was held up for months before it was referred to NLC’s Establishment Committee.

Comrade Ugboaja, NLC General Secretary

According to reliable sources, after the committee had finished its work and recommended immediate implementation, it was still not done until last December when employees were paid a lump-sum of six months out of the 42 months’ arrears, calculating from the time the new wage was signed into law by President Buhari.

Highly placed sources at the NLC’s National Secretariat and its State Councils, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of persecution, told National Record that the top leadership at NLC’s National Secretariat is not disposed towards paying even a day’s arrears out of the 42 months (3 and a half years) that the staff envisaged.

The sources revealed that the secretariat leadership only grudgingly conceded to implement the consequential adjustment due to pressures from some elected members of the National Administrative Council (NAC) of NLC; an organ composed of both elected leaders and appointed principal officers of Congress.

The leadership of the secretariat were said to have vehemently argued that since the least paid staff in NLC was already earning above the N30,000 minimum wage benchmark, the NLC was not under obligation to comply with the new wage law, let alone pay any arrears.

This argument was however defeated when the leadership’s attention was drawn to the issue of consequential adjustment which is traditional applied in negotiations of wage adjustment in the public service every time there was new national wage legislation.

National Record had reported that following the approval of the recommendation to implement the new wage by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the NLC at its meeting last December, the Congress had paid employees on New Year’s eve six months’ arrears of the new wage’s consequential adjustment.

National Record gathered from reliable sources that last week; the Congress also paid additional five months out of the arrears leaving a balance of 31 months to be paid.

But our sources expressed the fear that the workers may have received the last payment of the arrears in view of Secretariat leadership’s alleged decision to pay only eleven out of the 42 months originally supposed to be paid if the tradition of wage implementation in the NLC is to be rigidly followed.

When contacted on Thursday for the official position of the NLC on the matter via text messages and phone call, NLC’s Head of Information, Comrade Benson Upah, neither responded nor picked his call, just as he also failed to call back as at press time.

Similarly, inquiry text messages sent to NLC President, Comrade Wabba, and the General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, yesterday morning, were not responded to as at press time.

When called and asked to confirm the payment of five months arrears and if there was information with regard to the outstanding, Comrade James Eustace, the Chairperson of NLC’s in-house union, which is affiliated to the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU) responded somewhat frightfully: “Well, Comrade Onah, I think you have NLC people you can always ask because this whole thing, anytime I talk to you, the way and the dimension these matters are taking, I don’t think I am disposed to responding to your questions on these issues again. We discuss our issues at our meetings; so if at our union meeting, whatever we discuss, we can follow up on that.”

When told that the call was made to him basically in recognition of his position as the Chairperson of the in-house union and to find out if the union has discussed and resolved on the issue of the remaining arrears, Comrade James again frightfully responded: “Comrade Onah, we have not had our meeting yet, so I can’t give you any information now.” When further asked if he was aware of the snippets of information at the Secretariat that the leadership of NLC was not disposed to paying beyond 11 months’ arrears, the call cut off. Comrade James failed to pick several calls by this reporter to re-establish contact with him.


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