Minimum wage: FG in last-ditch effort to avert labour unrest

The Federal Government spirited effort to avert a planned nationwide strike on January 8, by the organised labour unions will continue on Monday.

Both parties are expected to continue negotiation to prevent the threat of strike over non transmission of the New National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, made the disclosure after the meeting with the labour leaders on Friday, in Abuja.

The National Executive Council of the NLC had threaten to embark on a nationwide protest on Jan. 8 to make government transmit the tripartite committee report on the N30,000 minimum wage to the National Assembly.

The labour ultimatum followed President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that a “high powered technical committee” would be set up to study the report before transmitting to the legislatures.

Buhari said the technical committee would device ways to ensure that the new wage implementation did not lead to an increase in the level of borrowing.

“We are continuing the meeting on Monday and we are making progress. We have made substantial progress. That is progress in terms of transmission of the new national minimum wage.

“So, we are discussing on ways to fast track and we are taking appropriate steps as required by us by law.

“Mr President is more committed to this as he was the one that set of the Tripartite Committee on the minimum wage and even inaugurated them and also put in all the resources,” he said.

Earlier in his remarks, Ngige had said the meeting was called as a result of the communique issued by the joint Labour Centres in Lagos.

“That is when you informed government that you are not happy with the implementation processes of the report of the tripartite committee. So government decided to meet with you today and brief you fully on all we have been doing.

“If you have questions, you ask us so that we can be on the same page because Mr President is determined to give a minimum wage to Nigerian workers. But in doing so, he has to do a minimum wage that can be sustainable.

“In doing that, it means that we have to do a proper process in what we have to do. The national minimum wage is an existing act that needs amendment. So, it is not a question of only money.

“There are things that we need to do before sending the bill to the National Assembly and do it in a way to maintain the sustainable status of the minimum wage. This why we have called you and for you to suggest to us.

“Also we will like to hear your own views or what we should add so that we can fast track the process,” he said.

Ngige added that: “we are aware that when the bill get to the National Assembly, it becomes the business of all of us, including the public.”

President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Mr Ayuba Wabba, in his remark, said organised Labour believed in social dialogue in resolving industrial relations.

“We have had a social dialogue bothering on the national minimum wage as you are aware and the meeting decided to adjourn and reconvene on Monday for us to do further consultations before the issues are concluded.

“We have discussed all the issues and all the areas particularly how we can ensure that the issue is put behind us. That is why we took such a long time, including having a time out to consult.

“But we have not been able to conclude and we have agreed to reconvene to tidy The process. The issue at stake is to make sure that the bill is transmitted and also other auxiliary issues that government says they are trying to put together.

“We also want to see how the money gets into the pockets of our workers because a lot of economic factors have affected the current wage. But the major issue is that we have been able to have a meaningful social dialogue.

“But the process is not conclusive and we will reconvene on Monday. Monday is not too far from now since today is Friday. So, I expect you to be available to get the decision by Monday. The rallies on Tuesday will be determined by Monday’s meeting,” he added.

Wabba pointed out that part of the report that was submitted was all inclusive of the main report and draft bill.

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