Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Ahead of Wednesday’s make or mar negotiation between the federal government and organised labour, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has asked the unions not to contemplate any action that may adversely affect the economy of the country.
He said that the threat by labour to embark on industrial action if the dispute on the full implementation of the new minimum wage is not resolved amounts to forcing government’s hands which will not work.
Speaking while receiving the leadership of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in his office, Ngige said that any national strike at this time will shut down the economy and further have a negative impact on the lives of Nigerians.
Ngige said: “Labour should not try to intimidate government by threatening industrial action.”
The minister said that the leadership of organised labour should not misinform workers on what minimum wage consequential adjustment is all about, adding that the issue is clearly different from undertaking a wage structure review which the federal government has already set up another committee to address.
Speaking on why the government may not accede to the demands by the Joint Nigeria Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) in approving 29 per cent wage increase for workers on grade levels 7-14 and 24 per cent for those on grade levels 15-17, Ngige said the ratio of proposed recurrent expenditure to capital expenditure in the 2020 national budget is very discomforting.
According to the minister, recurrent expenditure in the proposed budget for 2020 stands at 76 per cent, while capital expenditure is 24 per cent.
He also put the amount budgeted to take care of the new minimum wage consequential adjustment for federal public service workers at N160 billion.
Ngige said that the federal government negotiating team will be trying to seek the undertaking of the unions to accept a deal to end the minimum wage as the meeting reconvenes later Wednesday.