Labour talks tough over new minimum wage

According report from organised labour leaders,Industrial harmony cannot be guaranteed nationwide if the Federal Government fails to approve a new national minimum wage for workers.

It therefore gave the government a 14-day ultimatum beginning from yesterday to raise a tripartite committee in that respect.

The Guardian gathered that labour leaders, who had been tolerating government’s perceived insincerity towards a new pay, could no longer stomach the ‘delay tactics’ after the time frame for a fresh wage by the negotiating committee lapsed last month without government presenting a figure to the panel.

A joint press conference organised by leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) noted that the development was consequent upon the latest ‘provocative statement’ by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who asked the committee to adjourn indefinitely to enable him hold more consultations with government.

According to them, the pronouncement comes at a time the panel was finalising work on a figure for onward submission to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who spoke on behalf of the unions noted: “The present posturing of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who functioned as Acting Chairman of that Committee, brings back painful memories of precious time wasted, energies dissipated and hopes betrayed. Coupled with this, the minister’s latest pronouncement goes to cast further doubt on the integrity of the government as well as underscores the inherent danger in doing business with government.”

The National Minimum Wage Committee was inaugurated in November 2017 but commenced work in March 2018 with timelines to deliver on its mandate of arriving at a new national minimum wage last month.

Similarly, the Federal Government had assured workers during the 40th anniversary celebration of the NLC earlier in February that workers should expect a new national minimum wage in September.

Government, which spoke through Ngige, had said a tripartite committee would come up with a new figure in August while implementation of the pay was to commence this month.

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