Protests And Threats By NLC Forces Federal Government To Make Moves On New Minimum Wage
After the National Labour Congress, NLC had staged a nationwide protest over their N30,000 minimum wage demand, the Nigerian government has finally set a date for the transmission of the bill.
This is as the organised labour had also threatened to start a strike ahead of the presidential election taking place next month.
Naija News reports that the nationwide protests organized by labour held in Cross River, Lagos, Edo, Abuja, Osun, Kaduna, Benue, Ekiti and many other states on Tuesday.
The federal government had repeatedly delayed on taking steps on labour’s demand for a new wage figure (N30,000) as recommended by a tripartite committee set up to work on it.
President Muhammadu Buhari however, repeatedly assured that he would review the recommendation and send a bill backing a new wage figure to the National Assembly.
With the 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.
This is coming after series of talk between the government and labour leaders with the last one that yielded results held on Tuesday at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, whilst the protests was going on.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma were present at the meeting with the NLC, TUC and other labour unions.
In his opening remarks, the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, said protests were no longer necessary and threats should be withdrawn since both parties have reached an agreement.
“On part of the 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 the National Council of States to enable us to transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage,” he said.
On his part, the national president of Nigerian Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba said the labour unions agreed to the date but warned it would not tolerate a breach, warning that failure of the government to keep to the date so that the process can be completed will force unions threat on strike to be reviewed.
His words, “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,”
According to him, the ministers and the labour unions have 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 the 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 rot of those workers,” Mr Wabba said.
The deputy president of the Trade Union Congress, Sunday Salako, said the 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.
Meanwhile Naija News reports that the National Assembly is on recess and will resume January 16 after which the executive can now present the bill to the lawmakers.