…FG wants N24, 000, States Govt N20,000, Labour N30,000
The lingering issue of minimum wage which seemed to have been resolved by both parties has taken a new dimension as the stakeholders hold divergence views on the actual amount that should be the new national minimum wage.
It is instructive to note that the Federal Government is rooting for N25,000, the State governments are seeking for N20,000 while the Organised Labour is insisting on N30,000 minimum wage.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had on Tuesday said that the tripartite committee has agreed on N30,000 as new minimum wage.
But the claim did not go down well with Federal and States governments as they insisted that the claim by the NLC was not part of the agreement.
In a swift reaction on Wednesday, the Federal Government denied the reports that it has agreed N30,000 minimum wage with organised labour.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, disclosed this development on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
According to Ngige, negotiations are still ongoing as the stakeholders are yet to come to a consensus, pointing out that state governors and all principal actors have to be carried along.
The minister further explained that during negotiations with organised labour, the figures were adjusted “as the labour unions adjusted their figures and came down to N30,000 per month, organised private sector also adjusted their figures from N25,000 which they had earlier proposed to N30,000.
Noting that governors had their own figure, which was different from the figure of the Federal Government, Ngige said both the Federal Government and state governors’ figures were also presented.
However, he pointed out that everything was taken into consideration, saying the cardinal principle of wage fixing mechanism under the ILO is the ability to pay .
According to him, the issue of minimum wage under convention 131, the fixing mechanism takes that into account and also says that there must be a consensual agreement.
He said: “So we have a figure of the Federal Government and the state governments have theirs. The state government figure at the last time was N20,000, the Federal Government had a figure of N24,000 and that was where we all stood.
“This negotiation took into account these irreducible offers on the different governments but we could not arrive at a consensus. Even though we adjourned our meeting and said we will put up a report that will reflect this position, we are still continuing to discuss informally to see if we can arrive at a common figure.
“National Salaries and Incomes and Wages Commission have also done…for the government and presented to the economic management team, so discussions are still ongoing and that is where we are.
“This information becomes very pertinent because I saw all your papers, the dailies yesterday were awash with the news that we have all agreed on N30,000. That is not true, the Federal Government has not agreed on N30,000.
“The Federal Government is also carrying the states along because a lot of the workers are in the states and it’s a very sensitive matter. We cannot because the issue of minimum wage is item 34 and an Exclusive Legislation and the Federal Government is carrying its own team.
“So it’s a bi-focal arrangement when it comes to the Federal Government through the National Assembly to go and fix an amount which the states will find difficult to pay resulting may be in retrenchment of workers in the states.
While stating that the government doesn’t want any retrenchment, Ngige noted that President Buhari has always reiterated that no worker should be retrenched for as long as this administration is on.
He added: “No worker will be denied his promotion for as long as this administration is on and recruitment to replace people who have retired or people who are dead should continue to be done so that we face the issue of unemployment and do what we can through such recruitment. So this is the situation”.
Meanwhile, the organised labour has debunked the statement of the Federal Government which said that the new minimum wage as agreed by the committee is N24, 000.
Our correspondent, in a phone conversation with the Deputy General Secretary of the United Labour Congress, (ULC), Comrade Chris Onyeka, deduced that the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, was being misquoted to have said that the committee has agreed on a unified amount.
Onyeka further stated that the organised labour and the organised private sector have an agreed amount, but the government has chosen to politicise the issue, stressing that the minister of Labour is not happy about the N30, 000 labour has insisted on.
“The organised labour – ULC, TUC and NLC is going to issue a press statement. The fact is that we agreed N30,000 not N24,000, the organised private sector and the trade union movement.
The Minister of Labour did not agree to that and that was the purpose of the adjournment of the last tripartite committee meeting. NLC President is being quoted out of context by some people over the recent statement credited to him about the proposed announcement by the Federal Government, which is not true”.
“It is important we understand that nothing has been agreed by all the three parties. But the organised private sector and labour movement are on one page, except the Federal Government that is still at N25, 000, not even N24, 000;
the Federal Government is playing games, I think Nigerians should wait until the committee submits its report. Government is trying to play unnecessary politics”.