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Ngige Gives hope to Nigerian workers

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Succour may be coming the way of Nigerian workers, as the Federal Government on Tuesday gave a tentative January 23 timeline to forward the new minimum wage bill to the National Assembly.

The resolution followed another day of intensive meeting between the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and leaders of the organised labour groups in Abuja.

Ngige said a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed to that effect and that all modalities to keep to the submission date would be adhered to.

Recall that Labour successfully mobilised their members to stage nationwide protest on Tuesday, a development that may have compelled government to come up with a tentative date for the bill to be transmitted.

Labour had accused the Federal Government of unnecessarily delays in transmitting the wage increase recommendations to the National Assembly when all stakeholders in the Tripartite Committee had settled for N30,000 as minimum.

Despite pressures from Labour, some Governors at the State level had opposed the wage increase hinging their decision on paucity of funds.

Ngige said after the meeting, “we have a target time of January 23, and we hope that all things being equal, the executive will be able to do so.

“We will take on the statutory meetings of Federal Executive Council, National Economy Council and the National Council of States to enable us transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage,” he said.

He lauded the labour unions for their cooperation and understanding, appealing to them to withdraw the threat of embarking on industrial action.

Ngige also described the rallies by labour as unnecessary given the new arrangement on ground.

Ayuba Wabba, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) corroborated the Minister, saying on or before January 23, the bill should have been transmitted to the the National Assembly.

“We have agreed that our resolutions today should be documented and it should be signed by government representatives and organised labour, we thought that would be a more firm commitment.

“We believe with this, we can actually start following up the process, we have asked them to keep faith with the timeline, so that it will be concluded, as the minimum wage issue has been on the table for the past two years.

“We also thought that after having submitted the report and also drafted a draft bill by now we expected the bill should have been submitted,” he said.

He also noted that the NASS would resume on January 16 from their recess and that there will be no excuse for not submitting the bill.

Wabba also explained that NASS members are desirous of making sure that workers in Nigeria have decent wage, hence they will do the needful.

“We will shift our lobby to the NASS because once the bill is enacted, the money will be in the pocket of the workers.

“Issues of industrial relations are always addressed at the round table. We have been diligent in the whole process and workers have been patient, so we are committed to the process and hope that the timeline will be respected. We will put this across to our organs and give them all the details contained in the Memorandum of Understanding,”he stated.

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