Fresh Trouble Hits Nigeria’s New Minimum Wage
On September 30, when the organized labour decided to call off its nationwide industrial action over declaration of negotiation of Nigeria’s new minimum wage, it was on the back of hopes that a new figure for workers would soon be announced.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), also assured on October 8, that the country’s new minimum wage will be announced within “this week – that was last week – as the Tripartite Committee completes its assignment.”
“I want to assure workers that all has been concluded and will be passed for signing within the week.
“I also want to appreciate the Organised Private Sector, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Nigeria Employers Consultative Association for their resolve to pay the new minimum wage when it is signed into law,” he had said.
However, an announcement by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, that negotiation was inconclusive and that no agreement had been reached over a definite figure even after the tripartite negotiation committee rounded off its deliberations, has thrown up fresh agitation in the labour circle.
Bear in mind that during the October 4th and 5th meeting, both the organised private sector and organised labour agreed on N30, 000 while the Federal Government team led by Ngige pressed for N25, 000.
The conclusion was that since the organised labour and organised private sector are in agreement and in the spirit of tripartism, two against one was a done deal.
The meeting then adjourned to await the date for presentation to the Federal Government.
Nigerian Guardian reports that the agreement on N30, 000 by both labour and the organised private sector indeed signalled that majority (labour and employer body) had their way while minority (government) had its say.
Labour also said the Minister did not oppose the N30, 000 figure at the meeting and that the committee on figure that made the submission was chaired by Ngige himself.
But an argument emerged, during the course of negotiations, as labour is of the opinion that N30, 000 monthly (which is less than 100 dollars) is grossly inadequate to take care of a man, his wife and four children as stated in one of the strands of the Convention 131 of International Labour Organisation (ILO), which states that a minimum wage must take into account the needs of workers and their families.
The present scenario seems to lend credence to insinuations within labour movement that the present government is not committed to implementing a new minimum wage.
Meanwhile, the organised labour noted that it would not hesitate to declare yet another strike action that would be debilitating to the nation’s economy should the Federal Government delays the promulgation of a new minimum wage within the shortest period of time.
Reacting to this, Ngige on Monday assured that the federal government will of improve the welfare of workers at all times, insisting that the new minimum wage impasse will soon be resolved.
He said this in Enugu at the kick-off of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) national affordable housing project at Edeoballa–Nsukka, Enugu State.