News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Minimum wage: Labour draws battle line with govt

NLC President Ayuba Wabba

By Joan Nwagwu

There are fears that Nigerian workers will not enjoy the new minimum wage being proposed by government any time soon, as members of the Committee on National Minimum Wage set up for the new salary have started trading blames for the delay in their assignment.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says the Committee on National Minimum Wage has yet to agree on a figure for the new minimum wage for the Nigerian workers.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC president told newsmen on Monday in Abuja that the Labour committee was able to complete its own assignment but was disappointed that government’s side had failed to deliver .

“However, just before we conclude, the Minister of Labour spoke at an occasion as a representative of the Federal Government, that they needed to go and consult before arriving at a figure.

“We felt that since this committee was inaugurated in November and everybody was aware that all stakeholders needed to tidy up whatever consultations they needed to do and make sure that we are able to work within that timeline.

“Clearly speaking, they are  not prepared to produce a figure by that date. But our report has been completed. What is left is just to agree on a particular figure as minimum wage.

“All the parameters to be used to arrive at a figure are there. I can say clearly that states have sent in memorandums.

“In fact, 21 states sent in memorandums, with about 12 quoting figures, NECA has submitted a figure, organised labour has submitted a figure.

“With this new development, they are saying that they want to consult, we could say that it is not a fair process if somebody is saying at this point that he has not consulted,” he said.

Wabba noted that the organised labour, would meet formally and issue a formal statement, and also see how they would ensure that the interest of Nigerian worker was not in any way undermined.

According to him, this is where we are and we think that it is proper that we put the fact before our members.

“Labour leaders have already called for our organ meetings where we will brief our members.

“Already, it is in public domain that both the government and labour agreed that the timeline must be respected and they were saying that September is not feasible.

“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 good job.

“”All the parameters you can think of have been considered and the report is ready. But the only thing missing is the issue of the figure.”

The NLC president also recalled that individual states had quoted figures and every state was given the opportunity to make its own presentation.

He also noted that a letter was written to every state by the secretariat to send in their memo, making their inputs and 21 of them actually made inputs.

“You are aware of the figures quoted by organised labour. We have enough data to do justice to the work and we have actually done justice to the work. I am telling you that this is what has happened.

“So there was enough time for everybody to make input. This should have been consummated but some people are saying they need time for consultation.

“We thought that should not have been the situation, because of the importance of the issue to Nigerian workers; and the workers can also not continue to be patient,” he said.