By Victor Ahiuma-Young
INDICATIONS have emerged that the clamour for upward review of new national minimum wage by organized labour, may be long in coming, as there is no provision for it in the Federal Government budget proposal now before the National Assembly.
Organised labour had since May 2016, sent a proposal for a N52, 000 monthly National Minimum Wage, NMW, to the government .
Last month, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, warned that there would be no guarantee of industrial peace in the new year should government fail to conclude the process of a new minimum wage as soon as possible, beginning with a the tripartite committee.
Reacting to the development, the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, said no provision for new minimum wage was a critical missing link in the 2017 budget proposal.
While applauding the over N7 trillion 2017 Federal Government budget focusing on reflating the economy through import substitution and patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods, the union called for immediate constitution of a tripartite committee by government to agree on a new minimum wage, after which a supplementary budget should be sent to the National Assembly for its implementation.
Speaking through its President and General Secretary, John Adaji and Issa Aremu, respectively, NUTGTWN said: “Our union will support President Buhari to realise the vision of import substitution and jobs creation. We demand that the disbursement of this huge fund should help to revive local industry, reopen closed factories and should not be spent to finance frivolous imports and perpetuate unemployment.
“We commend the Nigerian Army for setting a good example with the purchase of made in Aba boots for the military. We urge that this process is further strengthened through patronage of made-in-Nigeria uniforms and tarpaulin for military operations and the internally displaced peoples’ camps.
‘’We note also that the critical missing link in the 2017 budget is the provision for new minimum wage. The government must make immediate provision for supplementary budget to address this concern. We, hereby, call for an urgent review of the National Minimum Wage. The federal government should immediately constitute the tripartite committee for a review of the National Minimum Wage.”
Also speaking on the issue, General Secretary of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said congress was not surprised over the development as there had been no agreement on a new minimum wage.
According to him, what is of urgent importance is for government to constitute a tripartite committee, comprising government, labour and private sector employers’ representatives, to negotiate and agree on a new National Minimum Wage, NMW.
He said: “It is not strange to us that there is no provision for a new minimum wage in the 2017 Federal Government budget because there is no agreement on it.
‘’What is urgent is for government to set up a tripartite committee to negotiate and agree on a new minimum wage immediately.
‘’Once this is done and agreement is reached and it is passed into law by the National Assembly, if the government thinks it cannot accommodate a new salary increase, it will send a supplementary budget to accommodate it. So, it is not surprising to us.”