Minimum Wage: SERAP urges Tinubu to pay living wage to workers

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Abuja, June 16, 2024 – The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to abide by the international obligation which enjoins governments to pay living wage to workers.

SERAP made the plea against the backdrop of the contentious outcome of the recent negotiations on new minimum wage.

While the federal government said it had reached agreement with all the parties on N62,000 new minimum wage, the labour unions said it had not reached any such agreement with government.

The unions are still demanding N462,000 living wage for Nigerian workers.

The federal government, however, said it planned to send a Bill on the N62,000 new minimum wage to the National Assembly soon.

SERAP made the plea through a letter to the president dated June 15, 2024 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

In the letter, the organisation said: “the reportedly proposed level of the minimum wage in the executive bill is grossly inadequate and falls short of the requirements of international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The executive bill should reflect the international standards that Nigerian workers should be provided, at a minimum, with a living wage, in accordance with costs of living.”

 “As you and your government know, Nigerian workers face many human rights challenges. Most of the people living in poverty work, yet they do not earn a wage sufficient to afford an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families.

“Any proposed minimum wage that fails to guarantee a life in dignity for Nigerian workers and their families would be entirely inconsistent and incompatible with international standards.

“Successive governments have persistently and systematically violated these guarantees. Millions of Nigerian workers remain poor due mainly to low wages and a lack of social security and social protection.”

“If your government sends to the National Assembly any bill which fails to meet the requirements of international standards, and the bill is then passed into law, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“The proposed recommendations are not unrealistic, as they are based on Nigeria’s international human rights obligations. Human rights are not a matter of charity. Upholding Nigeria’s international obligations regarding the right of workers to an adequate living wage would protect the purchasing power of workers in poverty.

“The preparation of the executive bill provides you and your government an important opportunity to respect, protect, promote and advance the rights of Nigerian workers to an adequate living wage and fair remuneration.”

“We urge you to take concrete steps to defend the rights of Nigerian workers to an adequate living wage.

“This would ensure that the proposed executive bill protects not only against absolute poverty but also against relative poverty, as a source of social exclusion.

“Your government has legal obligations to reflect these guarantees in any executive bill on the new minimum wage to be sent to the National Assembly.

“The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights imposes clear legal obligations on your government to ensure and uphold the right of Nigerian workers to an adequate living wage that would ensure a decent standard of living for the workers and their families.

“We urge you to put the country’s resources at the service of human rights, and to advance Nigerian workers’ right to an adequate living wage by immediately cutting the cost of governance and implementing bold transparency and accountability measures in ministries, departments,” SERAP said. (GBN)

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