While speaking in an interview with Nigerian Tribune, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, declared that the Federal Government was not ready to come up with a figure for an upward review of the minimum wage.
The NLC President accused the Federal Government and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige of frustrating and delaying the process; warning that workers can’t continue to be patient.
Based on its timeline and agreement to conclude their work on August 21, the Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage which included the organized labour, Employers and government, concluded its report last week; but against Labour and Employers expectation, the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, announced that the Federal Government was not ready with any figure.
“So, clearly speaking, they were not prepared to actually produce a figure between fourth and fifth (September) at the meeting we had but our report has been completed, it is just to agree at a particular figure,” Wabba said.
According to the NLC president: “you could recall that the committee was inaugurated in November 2017 but the committee started its assignment in March this year due to some logistic reasons and at its inaugural meeting, all the parties produced a work plan which spelt out the modus and operations and the duration of the work of the committee.
“By the work plan, we are supposed to end and submit our report by the 21st of August, unfortunately that day falls on a public holiday and therefore it was agreed that the 4th and 5th August should be used to complete the assignment of the committee and all members were committed to this process of completing the work of the committee and also forwarding it to the appropriate quarter.
“At that meeting, we were able to complete entirely the report. But just before we conclude the Minister of Labour who spoke at that occasion as the representative of the Federal Government said that they needed to go and consult before they arrive at a figure and we thought that this committee was put-in, in November and all through, everybody is aware that all the stakeholders need to tidy up whatever consultations or process they want to do and make sure that we are able to work within that timeline.”
He added: “So, clearly speaking, they were not prepared to actually produce a figure between fourth and fifth at the meeting we had but our report has been completed, it is just to agree at a particular figure. However, all the parameters to be used to agree on a figure also is clearly there.”
Wabba explained that states have sent in memoranda, adding that 21 states sent in memoranda where about 12 also quoted figures, while the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the organized labour submitted figure.
The NLC president said, “so what we are waiting and what we thought is that we should be able to complete the assignment at the meeting. But with the new development, they said they needed to consult and we thought also that it has not been a fair process if at this point somebody is saying he has not consulted and that they needed to consult.”
He said on their part, the organized Labour would meet formally and will issue a formal statement and try to see how the interest of Nigerian workers would not be undermined.
“This is where we are and I think, it is important we put the fact and figures before our members. We will do that formally because we have already called for our organs meeting where we would brief them because it is in public domain; where both government and Labour agreed.
“When they were saying November, we said no, and everybody agreed that the timeline must be respected. We are committed to respecting the timeline, and that is why we left everything we are doing to do the needful to be able to do a neat job. I can say that a good job has been done, all the parameters you can think of have been considered and the report is ready.”
He warned that Nigeria development would not be palatable to the workers. He added: “The only issue is that issue which I mentioned, which we think at this point in time it is not something that Nigerian workers will be palatable with such news, but that is the position they took and we said we would appropriately communicate to our people and also make sure we are able to agree on our next line of action.
“Already, we have scheduled those meetings and at the right time, we will inform you appropriately because it affects all Nigerian workers both those in public and private. That is why it is essential and very important.”