*As FG rejects Govs N22, 500 proposal, insists on N24, 000
*disagrees with, Govs, Labour, NACIMA over minimum wage
*Labour boycotts further negotiations with FG, to embark on strike Nov 6
*Insists Tripartite Committee members agreed on N30, 000
The controversies surrounding a consensus benchmark for a new National Minimum Wage for workers continued on Wednesday as the organised labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC and United Labour Congress, UCL vowed not to go into further negotiations with the Federal Government over the matter.
While the organized labour insists that members of the Tripartite Committee negotiating the new national minimum wage agreed on N30, 000 as benchmark, the federal government through the Labour Minister, Chris Ngige said it was N24, 000, the Nigeria Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA claimed N22, 000 was proposed and Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF said it can only pay N22, 500.
Ngige, who is one of the representatives of the federal government in the Tripartite Committee, was quoted to have said in a television interview that he has made it known to the governors that the federal government is not in support of their N22, 500 proposals as according to him, N24, 000 was agreed upon.
Amidst these discordant tunes, the organized labour wrote off the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF which offered to pay workers at the state level N22, 500 as minimum wage, saying they were the most incompetent class of people to decide on appropriate wages for workers.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba who addressed a press conference at the union’s headquarters also explained that all parties to the Tripartite Committee agreed on N30, 000 as the minimum pay following which signatures were collected by them.
He said he felt surprised that all parties to the agreement were currently singing different tunes up to the point that governors were now offering N22, 500 and the federal N24, 000.
He said if they continue to insist that all they can afford is N22, 500, labour would be left with no other option than to demand for N66, 500 which according to him was its stand from inception of the negotiation.
According to Wabba, the indefinite strike scheduled for November 6, 2018 was sacrosanct since it has been established that the government was testing the patience of Nigerian workers.
“Our attention has been drawn to a communiqué issued by the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF after its meeting on 30th October, 2018 claiming that State Governors can only pay N22,500 as the New National Minimum Wage.
“First, we wish to state that the Nigeria Governors Forum is not a negotiating body but merely a political organization for the convenience of state governors. The Tripartite Committee from inception sent letters to each state government to send in their memoranda as their contributions to the new national minimum wage negotiating process. 21 States sent in their memorandum quoting figures.
“Second, the demand of organized labour is not N30, 000. Our demand is N66, 500. N30, 000 is the compromise figure arrived at the end of negotiations by the tripartite partners – Government, Employers and Organized Labour. The new minimum wage was a product of intense negotiations that lasted for almost one year.
“The Governors had six representatives on the Tripartite Committee – one state governor represented each of the geo-political zones. The representatives of the state governors were part and parcel of the work of the negotiating committee from beginning to the end. It is important to note that the National Minimum Wage is not an allocation to workers.
“It is a product of negotiation by the tripartite partners. The unilateral pronouncement by governors of N22, 500 Minimum Wage is an abuse of every known principle of industrial relations, labour laws, processes and international best practices.
“Third, the NGF erroneously stated that the population of salaried workers is 5% of the general population in Nigeria. This 5% represents the nation’s workforce including teachers, health workers, police personnel, military men and women, engineers, drivers and other workers labouring for the development of our country.
“In Finland with far less population than Nigeria, every classroom is taught by four teachers. That is a country that understands the critical place of human capital to development. Of what benefit are roads, rails and bridges without human beings to run them?
“Fourth, we are also very concerned about the huge pressure being brought upon the Organized Private Sector (OPS) to compromise their stand on the N30, 000 compromises New National Minimum Wage.
“This pressure by the enemies of the Nigerian people was what led to the recent statement by NACCIMA that sought to cast aspersion on an already negotiated New National Minimum Wage. We believe that the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), a reputable body that represents organized labour, will present the fact as it is.
“We, therefore, condemn unequivocally the communiqué issued by the Nigeria Governors Forum on October 30, 2018 as an attempt to undermine the authority of Mr. President. This position should be equally condemned by all.
“Our demand is that the constitutional, legal and morally right step to take at this point is for the Chairman of the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiating Committee to submit the report of the already concluded National Minimum Wage negotiations to Mr. President for transmission to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.
“We wish to reiterate our position adopted at our National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of 23rd October, 2018 that any figure below N30, 000 will not be accepted by us. We call on our members to continue to mobilize in preparation for the commencement of an indefinite strike on the 6th of November, 2018, if by then necessary steps have not been taken to adopt the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee”, Wabba stated.
Meanwhile, NLC’s rejection of the governors’ proposal prompted another meeting of the Economic Management Team, EMT, chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Sources privy to the meeting said the EMT meeting may not be unconnected with how the revenue generating agencies can rally enough funds to meet the wage bill if it comes into effect, especially as the 2019 general elections draws closer.