Minimum Wage Crisis!

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Controversies surrounding a new national minimum wage for workers in the country continued today as indications emerged that some of the governors were not in agreement with what the federal government has proposed as the benchmark.

This much came to the fore, after the Economic Management Team, EMT meeting chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa Abuja yesterday ended in deadlock.

All the stakeholders, mainly representatives of the state governments met to take a position on the new wage bill but it ended inconclusive.

It would be recalled that workers under the auspices of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress TUC and United Labour Congress ULC have threatened to embark on an indefinite strike beginning from November 6, 2018 over alleged recalcitrance of the government to announce a new minimum wage.

At the level of the National Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage headed by former Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ama Pepple, the NLC leadership said all the stakeholders settled for N30, 000 as the minimum wage.

However at the Federal Executive Council meeting recently, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige countered labour’s position insisting that federal government settled for N24, 000 while states said they could merely afford N20, 700.

However, at the interface between the presidency and the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF where they were supposed to critically analyze the memo from the committee to take a final position, the Governors representative, Abdulaziz Yari said they could afford to pay any amount demanded by the workers but are constrained by the capacity to sustain such payment.

Yari who doubles as Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum, said, “The position of the governors is not very clear to some of you. We are willing to pay any amount but the issue is the capacity to pay.”

He said that the meeting discussed the proposal made by the organised labour and the figure proposed by the federal government adding that “the governors still haven’t come out with any figure.”

“So by tomorrow, we are going to discuss with our governors on the bill by the Minister of Labour and Employment to the NGF Secretariat. We will digest it and come up with our own positions as governors because we are critical stakeholders on this issue”, he explained.

It was however gathered that the governors were not comfortable with the N24, 000 proposals by the federal government and would likely come up with their own figure after a meeting slated for Tuesday, October 30 (today).

A source privy to the meeting said that the governors were furious with the N24, 000 when some governors were unable to pay the current N18, 000.

Ngige however gave an indication that the meeting had a fruitful deliberation.

Ngige said, “We held a meeting for us to bring out modalities for us to respond to the emerging problems thrown up by the National Minimum Wage Committee and we have very fruitful meeting which necessitated in governors having further meeting tomorrow (today).”

“We will reconvene tomorrow to brief the Economic Management Team and the Vice President and we take it up from there. The governors will meet to take a position and brief the Economic Management Team. This meeting is only for the Tripartite Committee of the government side”, he added.

Meanwhile, ahead of November 6 nationwide strike to compel government to peg a new minimum was at N30, 000, organized labour said it will hold a mass protest across the country as part of sensitization of workers and Nigerians for the proposed strike.

It urged workers not to be deterred by the government’s threat of “no work, no pay” as strike had always complied with legal requirements.

Already, leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC and United Labour Congress of Nigeria, TUC, have begun massive mobilisation of members nationwide and their civil society allies, ahead of not only tomorrow’s protest, but also for the nationwide strike on November 6.

“The NEC resolved to organize a national day of mobilization and sensitization rallies for all workers to show their outrage and mourning in the 36 states of the federation and FCT on Tuesday, 30th October 2018, the day will also be used to educate and sensitize Nigerians on the horrendous plight of workers and pensioners, the insensitivity and duplicity of government on labour issues, and to protest the proposed obnoxious policies of government against organized labour”, the union said in a statement released today.

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