New Minimum wage: Labour threatens to embark on another strike
…says ‘we cannot guarantee industrial peace’
Indications emerged on Friday that Organised Labour may soon call out workers for yet another round of strike following insinuations that the government was yet to agree on a new National minimum wage with Organised Labour.
The leadership of Organised Labour said they cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if the government delayed further the announcement and implementation of the new National minimum wage following the completion of the work of the tripartite committee set up by the President to come up with a new minimum wage for the country.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba had told newsmen that the federal government will announce a new National minimum wage after a meeting of the National Economic Council, but Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige told the Nation after the Federal Executive Council meeting that the committee was yet to arrive at a particular figure.
Ngige said the government was still negotiating with Organised Labour as the states and federal government as well as Organised Labour and employers were banding different figures which has not been agreed upon.
Sources close to the committee told The Nation that the Minister of Labour himself headed the subcommittee on figures during the negotiations and came up with certain figures which the committee discussed over two days before arriving at a particular figure which is to be communicated to the President.
Apart from the figures, the committee has also drafted a bill which is to be sent to the National Assembly to give the new National minimum wage wage a legal backing.
Contacted, President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Comrade Bala Bobboi Kaigama said organized labour will not disclose its next line of action for now, but waiting for Chairman of the Tripathite Committee to call them to come and sign the final document which will be submitted to the President.
Kaigama told The Nation on phone that since the committee has concluded it’s work, Nigerians should be patient and await the final document which will made available by the government, pointing out that the statement by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige should not be taken serious by Nigerians.
He said Organised Labour will meet at the appropriate time to take a decision on the way forward, adding that it was rather too early to begin to talk of any formal action.
He said “Like you know, the tripartite committee has concluded its assignment. We are waiting for the Chairperson of the committee and former Head of Service of the Federation, Ms. Ama Pepple to invite them to come and sign a clean copy of the final report which will be submitted to the President.”
In a reaction to the Minister’s claims, Organised Labour had accused the minister of creating unnecessary tension among workers and Nigerians with his statement.
They said “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige claiming that no amount has been agreed by the Tripartite Committee recommendation to government. The report further claimed that the Minister said that government was still negotiating with Labour.
“It is rather unfortunate and sad if indeed, the Honourable Minister made those statements. For the avoidance of doubt, organised labour representatives Wish to state unequivocally that the Tripartite Committee concluded is work, adopted a figure through a formal motion moved, seconded and adopted In the absence of any counter motion.
“This was after a thorough debate of a report from the subcommittee figure, chaired by Senator Ngige himself which presented four scenarios for consideration.
“The subcommittee worked on the basis of a figure proposed by the Federal Government, figures proposed by a number of state government, as well as proposals submitted by the Organised Private Sector and Organised Labour.
“The Committee formally adjourned its sitting with a decision that a date will be communicated to members for the signing of the report and submission of same to Mr President.
“Organised Labour, therefore frowns at the manipulation and bending of facts in an attempt to delay or derail the processes needed to promulgate a new National Minimum Wage. We call on the government to take immediate necessary steps to ensure the enactment of a new National Minimum Wage as we cannot guarantee Industrial peace and harmony.”