The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday threatened that it would embark on a nationwide industrial action if the Federal Government fails to commence implementation of the N56,000 new national minimum wage by May 2017.
The President of the Congress, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, who issued the threat during a chat with some selected Labour Correspondents in Abuja, decried the non-inclusion of the new wage increase in the N7.298 trillion for the 2017 fiscal year presented by President Muhammadu Buhari before the joint session of the National Assembly last week.
According to him, the NLC would not guarantee Industrial peace in the country if the government fails to constitute the tripartite committee to determine a new Minimum Wage in the country before May 1, 2017.
He stressed that the NLC had made a proposal of N56,000 Minimum Wage to the Federal Government and was still sticking to the demand.
He continued: “The issue of minimum wage remains sacrosanct because of the fact that by law and practice, the review is due and overdue. I have said clearly that we cannot guarantee any industrial peace any longer if necessary steps are not taken by government to try to resolve this issue before the next May Day. This is very clear because as we said, we have sent formal notice of demand as required by law to government to try to constitute the Committee.
“Essentially, the committee to dialogue and negotiate the minimum wage which is supposed to be tripartite has not been set up. If it is set up, all of you will be aware of the membership and also their terms of reference and the timeline given to them to actually dispose with this very vital issue.
“The issue is so sensitive because of the fact that a lot of our members have actually been subjected to a lot of difficulties because the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerian workers has been reduced to virtually nothing because of the inflation in the system, the free fall of the naira and to compound it with high cost of goods and services. More so, most workers now cannot meet up with their daily needs, they can’t pay their rents, they can’t send their children to school.
“It is even more compounded because cost of goods and services have gone up. So, side by side with the issue of fighting corruption is also for workers to be paid a decent wage that they can be able to have a meaningful living, so, this is the challenge.”
He added: “They must see reason to try to accommodate it because the fact is very obvious that it is legitimately due both in law and practice and therefore this is our approach. Once it is mutually agreed and from the statements I have listened to, I have not heard government say that they are not willing to consider the issue of minimum wage. I think the Minister of Labour has said very clearly that they are committed to review the minimum wage, but when is the issue now.
“Therefore let us not mix two things, is there a resistant to say that there will be no review of minimum wage? I am not sure I have heard that because by our constant interaction, the government has through the Minister of Labour said they are also willing to review the minimum wage. As I said earlier, we have made a formal demand, written and therefore if there is the need to review the template, we will do that at the table but that will have to be jointly. What we have submitted is N56,000 and therefore that N56,000 is still valid.”