Minimum Wage: NGO drags FG to Court over Non-payment, Alleges Forced Labour

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Court
Industrial Court

A non-governmental organisation named The Incorporated Trustees of Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative has filed a suit against the Federal Government of Nigeria before the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja on Friday, 27th day of September 2019 over the government’s non-payment of the new minimum wage since passage of the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act and the President’s assent to it since April 2019.

In Suit Number NICN/ABJ/292/2019 filed on behalf of the organisation by the Law Firm of Olumide Babalola LP, the Applicant is claiming:

  1. 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).
  1. 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).
  1. 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.
  1. CONSEQUENTIAL ORDER(S) that this honorable 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. The matter has not been assigned to a judge at the time of filing this report.

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