By Victor Ahiuma-Young
UNITED Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, yesterday, berated Minister of Labour and Employment and Chairman of Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage, Senator Chris Ngige, over comments credited to him that workers should not expect a new national minimum wage by September.
According to ULC, “it is most unfortunate and justifies earlier fears concerning the hidden motives of our social partners such as government and employers.”
ULC, in a statement claimed the minister’s comments had not only exposed a hidden agenda and an indictment of the Federal Government, but a confirmation of insinuations that the government and employers were not prepared to ensure workers get a new minimum wage.
The group in a statement by its President, Joe Ajaero, however, contended that the July deadline for conclusion of negotiation remained sacrosanct and anything contrary would not be acceptable to organised labour and Nigerian workers.
According to the statement, “hinging it on the inability of the committee to complete its work before that date is at best laughable. We consider it a ploy by the government to continue holding the lives of Nigerian workers and their dependants in abeyance.
“It is a practice in shifty expediency to buy more time for the government and employers thus extending the poor wages which they have subjected Nigerian workers to over these past seven years.
“It is also an indictment on the government, especially the minister who ought to be the coordinator of the committee. If the committee fails to do its work expeditiously, then it is the failure of the supervising ministry.
“When that committee was setup, we raised eyebrows at its composition and the real motive behind its convocation. We were then of the view that the prevailing character of the committee’s membership may have largely signified the real intentions of the government as it concerns the review of the national minimum wage.”