The Incorporated Trustees of Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative (ITLRAI) has described the Federal Government’s refusal to commence the payment of the new national minimum wage to Nigerian workers as forced labour.
The group disclosed this in a suit filed at the National Industrial Court, Abuja, through its lawyer, Mr Olumide Babalola, on Friday, September 27.
ITLRAI said the government’s conduct violated the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act which was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group is seeking four reliefs:
“A declaration that the Respondent’s payment of salaries lower than the minimum wage provided under Section 3 of the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act 2019 constitutes a degrading treatment in violation of eligible workers’ right to dignity of human persons guaranteed by Section 34(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended).
“A declaration that the Respondent’s payment of salaries less than the minimum wage constitutes forced labour in violation of the provision of Section 34(1)(c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended).
“A declaration that by virtue of section 9(2)(c) of the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act 2019, the Respondent ought to pay every eligible worker an additional penalty of not less than prevailing Central Bank of Nigeria’s lending rate for every month of default of payment of minimum wage since May 2019.
“Consequential order(s) that this honourable court may deem fit to grant in the circumstance.”
In their written address, the Applicant relying on a decision by the Supreme Court of India in Sanit Roy v State of Rajasthan (1983) PLR 328, 1983 SCR (2) 271, argued that payment of salaries less than the minimum wage falls within the meaning of forced labour.