The organized labour has given the Federal Government 14-day ultimatum to enable its members finalise work aimed at reaching a definite figure for a new national minimum wage to avoid disruption of industrial peace and harmony.
The organized labour, comprising the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC), are also members of the National Minimum Wage Committee charged with working out a new national minimum wage for the country.
Briefing newsmen shortly after a press conference held in Lagos on Wednesday, labour said the conference was informed by the “latest provocative statement” by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who had said a few days ago that the committee should adjourn indefinitely to enable him do further consultations with the government.
The labour said the decision of the minister came at a time it was concluding its work of arriving at a definite figure for submission to Government.
“We view his latest pronouncement with great concern, suspicion and outrage. This new antic certainly is not acceptable to Nigerian workers who had expected a new national minimum wage since 2016 but who out of uncommon sacrifice and patriotism hearkened to government’s appeal and the process was delayed,” it said.
Recall that 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 in August/September 2018.
The country’s N18,000 minimum wage was legally due for a review in 2016, but it was gathered that efforts being made by the labour unions to ensure the government announce a new figure proved abortive.
Ngige had reportedly assured workers during the 40th anniversary celebration of the NLC in February, 2018 that workers should expect a new national minimum wage in September this year.
But according to the organised labour, “We wonder what has gone amiss between February 28 and now. Or do we assume that the Honourable Minister is acting a script?”
“His pronouncement is capable of rubbishing the work of the committee as well as raising serious concerns about the readiness of the government to accede to the putting together of a new national minimum wage.
“Beyond this, the Minister’s pronouncement has generated considerable tension among workers and provoked sharp reactions from the unions which justifiably argue that the government is only out to waste the time of workers and is not prepared to pay a new national minimum wage,” it said.
It added that the new national minimum wage was not only necessary but urgent considering rising cost of living for workers in the country, occasioned by “increase in the pump price of petroleum products, increase in electricity tariff, massive devaluation of the Naira leading to a punitive exchange rate, and hyper-inflation.”
It further said, “the present posturing of the 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.”
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