The Joe Ajaero-led faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has proposed N90, 000 as minimum wage to the Federal Government, as against N56,000 demanded by the major faction led by Comrade Ayuba Wabba. Ajaero disclosed this at an interactive session with journalists in Lagos on Wednesday while explaining the terms his group had reached with the Federal Government following the recent withdrawal of subsidy on petrol.
He spoke just as the Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) agreed to set up a committee to resolve the issues surrounding their disagreement on the recent liberalization of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry which led to a hike in the pump price of petrol from N86.50 to N145 per litre. This meeting between both parties, which ended on ended on an inconclusive note, took place on Wednesday in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in Abuja. Present at the meeting were the SGF, Mr. Babachir Lawal, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who was a former labour leader.
The NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, led the team from labour. Ajaero further said labour would not sign any agreement on a new minimum wage, if it was not implementable. According to the NLC factional leader, the ability to pay the proposed new wage is the purpose of any minimum wage agreement, stressing that no labour leader will sign an agreement that cannot be realistic. He said that since his group proposed N90, 000 while the Ayuba Wabba-led group demanded for N56, 000, government had the prerogative to come out with its own position.
“If the government comes out with its position, we, the labour movement can crosscheck and counter it, if necessary, before the agreement is signed,’’ Ajaero said. He said that the minimum wage was a proposal based on the economic index, which could force the government to reduce its workforce, if necessary.
Ajaero said that there would be a sub-committee that would look into an increase in wages for the manufacturing sector, to enable it to be able to cater for the welfare of employees in the sector. The factional leader also said that only the Board of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) had the prerogative to fix the prices of petroleum products. “Even if Organised Labour and Nigerians were able to compel the government to reduce the N145 Petrol price to N50 per litre, it would have been illegal,’’ he noted.
Ajaero, who recalled that the Board of the PPPRA had not been reconstituted for the last four years, however, called for its reconstitution within two weeks. Also speaking, Mr Igwe Achese, President, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), stressed the need for the country to build new refineries. He called on government to ensure that existing refineries were fixed, to enable them perform optimally and pave way to end the importation of petroleum products. According to him, labour will ensure that the N5 trillion palliatives promised by the government are implemented, to alleviate the pains of Nigerians from the withdrawal of subsidy