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Govt, Labour head for showdown over new minimum wage

By Victor Ahiuma-Young
L
AGOS—FOLLOWING apprehension that the Federal Government was not prepared to approve a new national minimum wage for workers, indications, Tuesday, emerged that  organised labour had resolved to confront the government head on.

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Leaders of organised labour through Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC and United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, will today in Lagos, take decisive position on how to confront government.

A terse invitation to Vanguard on today’s meeting reads: “NLC, TUC and ULC is organising a joint press conference on National Minimum Wage negotiations and matters arising on Wednesday.”

It was gathered that labour leaders, who had been tolerating perceived government insincerity towards a new minimum wage, could no longer stomachFederal Government’s delay tactics after the time frame for the minimum wage negotiating committee to conclude its works lapsed last month (August) without government presenting its figure to the committee.

It was gathered that on the last day when government was supposed to inform the committee of its figure, the government said it was a public holiday and that it would make its figure known at the next Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting on September 5.

At the meeting, Vanguard gathered that FEC did not arrive at any figure, but said it would beg labour for more time.

Meanwhile, those in the know told Vanguard that government plans to delay announcing a new wage till the eve of the election when it will announce a bogus figure for election purposes and will repudiate it after the elections.

A source said: “They will say there is no money to pay as it is being done by some state governments who have deliberately refused to pay not because there is no money, but they just do not want to pay. Part of government’s plans is that the current Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who is the Chairman of the Minimum Wage Committee, is planning to contest election in Anambra State. He has to resign to be eligible to contest. When he does that, it will throw the committee into crisis as government has to shop for a replacement which will also take some time. All these will enable the government buy the needed time ahead of the election.”

A member of the minimum wage negotiating committee told Vanguard that “it is obvious that government has been buying time. The negotiations have suffered many postponements induced by government. Even from the body languages of the representatives of both federal and state governments, we can  recognise delay tactics.”

 


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