By Victor Ahiuma-Young
NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday said Nigerian workers were shocked by statements credited to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, that workers should wait beyond September 2018 for the New National Minimum Wage.
NLC in a statement by its President, Ayuba Wabba, warned that such statement by the Minister of Labour was not only provocative, but also insensitive especially in the face of the excruciating suffering being endured by Nigerian workers particularly as occasioned by the increase in the cost of living.
The statement reads in part: “We used the word “shocked” because it was the same Minister that in February 2018 without prompting or pressure announced to the whole world that by September, 2018, the Federal Government would start paying the new national minimum wage. The current volte face by the Minister of Labour is not only provocative; it is also insensitive especially in the face of the excruciating suffering being endured by Nigerian workers particularly as occasioned by the increase in the cost of living.
“Do we need to remind the Minister that he was once a civil servant who always looked forward to his monthly salary? Nigerian workers who are not privileged to earn fat salaries, allowances, estacodes and other perks of political appointments are looking forward to enjoy minimal relief in the form of the new national minimum wage.
The leadership of the NLC regard the gaffe as inconsistent with the fervour so far demonstrated by the tripartite committee set up by Mr President to review the National Minimum Wage. The Minister’s stance is also at variance with the declaration made by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo when he represented Mr. President at this year’s May Day Celebrations. He, Yemi Osinbajo, promised Nigerian workers that government was committed to ensuring that the issue of the new National Minimum Wage was concluded and delivered.
“Our concern is “who is the Minister of Labour speaking for?” Nigerian workers want to know who has sent Dr. Chris Ngige on this nebulous errand. On whose side is the Minister of Labour on the upward review of the National Minimum Wage? Our position was that we would expedite actions at the level of the tripartite committee on the minimum wage and ensure that discussions and negotiations are concluded by August 2018 so that Nigerian workers can start benefitting as quickly as possible from the New National Minimum Wage.