Minister of Labour and Employment with Labour Leaders
On a day the Nigeria Labour Union, NLC staged a nationwide peaceful protest over the lingering issue of minimum wage, the Federal Government finally reached an agreement with organized labour after a meeting that lasted few hours.
The party agreed on the transmission of an executive bill of a new Minimum Wage by the Federal Government to the National Assembly. A subtle threat was attached with the agreement.
According to the president of Trade Union Congress, Kaigama Bobboi, labour would go on strike without warning if the FG failed to transmit the bill to NASS on the agreed date. The NASS is expected to resume on January 16.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Nigige, who presided over the meeting at his ministry, sounded upbeat, “As for the transmission of the executive bill to the National Assembly, the government will religiously implement all the processes that will enable us to transmit this bill within the stipulated time.
“We have a target time of January 23, 2018, and we hope that all things being equal, the government will be able to do so. We will take all statutory meetings of the Federal Executive Council, National Economic Council and the National Council of State meetings to enable us transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage. I thank the labour unions for their understanding and appeal to them that the threats should come down. Protests are no longer necessary.”
Responding, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, said:
“Our position is clear and through our negotiation, they know very well that not yielding to the terms is going to spell a reaction not good for the industrial atmosphere of the country. We have it in good faith that they will honour their part of the bargain. We will continue to sensitize our member that once it is 24th and nothing is done, we swing into action,” he said.
He said the ministers and the labour unions have signed a memorandum of understanding. “With that, I think we can actually follow up on the process. We have asked them to keep faith with the timeline so that this thing can be concluded. Having submitted the Report, we expect that the bill is transmitted and that is what we discussed. We know that the members of National Assembly want workers to get desirous minimum wage,” he said.
“Clearly speaking, we have been diligent and we have always been carrying our members along. Our power is from the membership. Until the money is in their pocket, it will still be a story. We have told them to carry this message to all government houses in Nigeria. This is an issue that affects every worker. Any governor that said he is not paying should be ready for the riot of those workers,” Mr Wabba said.
The NLC and the FG have been going back and forth on a new minimum wage for the six months. For labour the national minimum wage should be increased to N30,000 from the current N18,000, while for the states and FG, the main issue is where do we get the money to pay? But there appears to be no going back because the law says wages must be reviewed every five years.
Beside Ngige, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma were present at the meeting with the NLC, TUC and other labour unions.