FG Carefully Studying Labour’s Demand for New Minimum Wage, Says Ngige

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  • NLC: We’re waiting for a tripartite committee

Paul Obi in Abuja

The federal government on Monday said it was carefully studying demands by organised labour for a new minimum wage of N56,000 for Nigerian workers.

This is the first official statement on the proposal for a new minimum wage spearheaded by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, kept mute on the issue during the last Workers’ Day even as labour made obvious its stand and threats concerning the new minimum wage.

During a meeting with officials of the Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa, OTUWA, in Abuja, Ngige hinted that the federal government was considering the demands painstakingly.

He said: “The demand by labour for the review of the minimum wage is a legitimate request which the Federal Government is carefully studying and appropriately responding to.

“The other day, the labour requested for increased wages for workers and they have only done what they are supposed to do. Therefore, nobody will quarrel with them. At the appropriate time, we shall all sit down because what the labour is asking is for the re-negotiation of an existing Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA).

“Every CBA based on an agreement is subject to re-negotiation at any given time that any of the partners requests for it, said the Minister while receiving the executive members of the today in Abuja.

Meanwhile, Ngige has debunked the notion that whenever the labour makes such a demand, it connotes that the Nigerian workforce is at loggerheads with the government.

“It is wrong for people to think that whenever the labour makes such a demand the nation is boiling. The labour in Nigeria has for the first time met a labour friendly government under President Mohammadu Buhari. The government has put machinery in motion as we speak because I have got a letter as the Minister of Labour and Employment for my advice.

“We shall advise the government the way such a tripartite negotiation will be handled so that everybody will be satisfied without any industrial unrest. Government in this sense includes also the state and local governments whom such wages will be binding on. When government takes a decision, we will now move to another stage in the process of re-negotiation of the CBA.”

He further stressed that the change mantra of the Buhari administration is geared towards changing the way things are done for the better.

“We are in an era where due process supersedes every other. People can only perform their roles and give way for other people to also perform theirs,” adding that labour is part of the tripartite arrangement of the International Labour Organisation structure which Nigeria is signatory to.”

Speaking to THISDAY in an interview, NLC Secretary General, Dr Peter Ozo-Ezon explained that “it is the prerogative of government to study the demands, what we are waiting for is the tripartite committee.