Federal government has finally set a date for the transmission of a bill for a new national minimum wage, a move aimed to stop organised labour from starting a strike about a month before a presidential election.
The federal government has repeatedly dithered on the labour’s demand for a new wage figure, refusing to commit to N30,000 recommended by a tripartite committee.
Still, President Muhammadu Buhari assured he would review the recommendation and send a bill backing a new wage figure to National Assembly.
With Nigeria Labour Congress and its affiliate unions threatening a protest and a nationwide strike, the government on Tuesday agreed to send the bill on January 23.
The decision came after three days of talks.
Tuesday’s meeting held between 1p.m. and 3:30p.m. at Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udoma Udo Udoma were present at the meeting with NLC, TUC and other labour unions.
The meeting took place same day labour unions held a nationwide protest over the minimum wage.
In his opening remarks, Ngige, said protests were no longer necessary and threats should be withdrawn since both parties have reached an agreement.
“On part of government, we are going to try to religiously implement all the processes that will enable us to transmit this bill within the stipulated time. 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 it to the statutory meetings of Federal Executive Council, National Economy Council and National Council of States to enable us to transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage,” he said.
President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba said labour unions agreed to the date but warned it would not tolerate a breach.
Wabba urged the government to keep to the date so that the process can be completed.
The unions threatened the process will be reviewed with necessary action taken without reverting to the government.
“Our position is clear and through our negotiation, they know very well that not yielding to the terms is going to spell a reaction not good for the industrial atmosphere of the country. We have it in good faith that they will honour their part of the bargain. We will continue to sensitize our member that once it is 24th and nothing is done, we swing into action,”he said.
According to him, the ministers and labour unions had signed a memorandum of understanding. With that, I think we can actually follow up on the process. We have asked them to keep faith with the timeline so that this thing can be concluded. Having submitted the Report, we expect that the bill is transmitted and that is what we discussed. We know that members of National Assembly want workers to get desirous minimum wage,” he said.
“Clearly speaking, we have been diligent and we have always been carrying our members along. Our power is from the membership. Until the money is in their pocket, it will still be a story. We have told them to carry this message to all government houses in Nigeria. This is an issue that affects every worker. Any governor that said he is not paying should be ready for the wrath of those workers,” Wabba said.
Deputy president of Trade Union Congress, Mr Sunday Salako, said labour unions and government were committed to the processes and an agreement has been reached.
“Both of us are committed to the processes. I mean the government and labour. We’ve reached a clear understanding. Transmission to National Assembly must be on or before 23, January. After that, should anything negative happen, labour will not revert to Government again”, he said.