- The Nigeria Labour Congress has declared that the federal government is not ready to come up with a figure for an upward review of the minimum wage
- Its president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, accused the federal government and the minister of labour and employment of frustrating and delaying the process
- The congress has summoned the meeting of its organs for next week to report the federal government and take the next action
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has said that the national minimum wage committee was yet to submit its report to the president because it was yet to agree on a figure, The Nation reports.
Wabba also added that the failure of the federal government to come up with a figure to be agreed upon contributed to the delay of the new minimum wage.
NAIJ.com gathered that Wabba in an interview said that while the committee has concluded its deliberation, the minister of labour, Senator Chris Ngige, told the committee that the federal government needed to consult before coming up with its own figure, a position he said negates the earlier agreement to work within its timeline.
The minister of labour said that state governors were frustrating the work of the committee, but Wabba said 21 states actually made presentation to the committee with many quoting figures while some others said they would abide by whatever decision was arrived at.
He said the commission has called a meeting of all its organs with a view to informing them of the development, pointing out that a definite position will be announced after the meeting as the minimum wage is already two years behind the scheduled date.
Wabba said: “If you recall, the minimum wage committee was inaugurated in November 2017, but started its assignment in March 2018 due to logistics reasons. At its inaugural meeting, all parties produced a work plan which spelt out the modus oparandi and duration of the work of the committee.
“By the work plan, we were supposed to end our work and submit our report by the 21st of August. Unfortunately, that date fell on a public holiday and so, it was agreed that the 4th and 5th September be used to complete the work of the committee. All members were committed to the completion of the work of the committee and forwarding it to the appropriate quarters.
“At that meeting, we were able to complete the entire report. But just before we conclude, the Minister of Labour spoke at that occasion as representative of the federal government, saying they needed to go and consult before arriving at a figure."
According to him, the congress felt that since the committee was inaugurated in November, everyone would have it in mind to tidy up whatever consultations they needed to do and make sure that to work within that time line.
“Clearly speaking, they were not prepared to produce a figure by that date. But our report has been completed. What is left is just to agree on a particular figure. All the parameters to be used to arrive at a figure are there.
“I can say clearly that states have sent in memorandum. Infact, 21 states sent in memorandum, with about 12 quoting figures, NECA has submitted a figure, organized labour has submitted a figure. What we thought was that we should be able to complete that assignment by the 5th of September.
“With the new development and they saying that they want to consult, we could say that it is not a fair process if somebody is saying at this point that he has not consulted," he added.
He said organsied labour will meet formally and issue a formal statement and see how they can make sure the interest of Nigerian worker is not in any way undermined.
On the statement credited to the minister that states were frustrating the work of the committee, Wabba said: “Individual states quoted figures and every state was given the opportunity to make presentation. A letter was written to every state by the secretariat to send in their memo, making their inputs and 21 of them actually made inputs."
He said a particular figure which should be agreed upon was not and there were proposals and counter proposals before information came from the minister of labour that there is a committee of the federal government led by the minister of budget and national planning who were supposed to have sent in their input, but did not.
He said they review was about two years behind schedule as the 2011 minimum wage collective agreement by all parties agreed that a review will be due after five years and everyone knows when that period is due.
“They are at liberty to quote figures and we are at liberty to also quote what we think is right. It is a process of dialogue and consultation and at the end of the day, we have to agree on something. We are satisfied that they came up with something they want us to consider. What is important is that they are committed to reviewing the minimum wage. That is why they came up with the options.
“Every state should answer their own name and the workers of that state will engage them. I don’t want us to hide under the omnibus name. Every governor must first answer their names.
“What we have agreed is that if a governor is not willing to comply, let him go back to his own state, call the workers and tell them he will not pay the minimum wage and we will take it from there.
“Let the minister not speak form the governors. He should speak on behalf of the federal government. Even the last one we had, the governors forum never made any submission. It was individual states that sent in memo because what is recognized by law is individual states.
“If we do the needful and prioritise our needs, states will be able to pay. As we speak there are states that are doing extremely well in the payment of the N18,000 minimum wage. The issue is not about resources, but management of those resources," he added.
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NAIJ.com previously reported that the federal government on Monday, August 13, assured Nigerians and the labour workforce that the new minimum wage will begin by the end of September.
The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, said federal government would announce the new minimum wage before the end of the third quarter which is September.
Ngige while speaking at the 40th Anniversary of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Abuja said the federal government is aimed at determining a decent work agenda for Nigerians.
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