…Says discussion was ongoing
…Denies agreeing on a figure with Labour
…A figure was agreed by c’ttee, Labour replies Ngige
By Victor Ahiumayoung & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—THE Federal Government, yesterday, proposed to pay N24,000 as new minimum wage, saying states agreed to pay N20,000, against the N30,000 demanded by Labour.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said N24,000 was what the Minimum Wage Negotiation Tripartite Committee agreed on and that government would not go beyond that.
The minister said in the tripartite committee, the Federal Government according to the International Labour Organisation, ILO, is called the authentic authority and that the cardinal principle of wage fixing under the ILO was the capacity to pay.
But Ngige said negotiation was ongoing as the government team would be meeting with the leadership of organised labour today to ensure that all the parties arrived at a consensus figure.
He stated further that there was a disagreement in the private sector as some players in the sector have opposed the proposed N30,000 agreed on in the last meeting.
Ngige said: “If you can recall, we spoke on September 26 and I did inform you that I was going to meet with organised labour to see what we can do to stop the impending strike which was slated for the 27th.
“We met in my office and we agreed to reconvene the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee for October 4 and 5, that was the issue in contention at the time and the idea was to enable them get back to their council to call off the strike.
“However, one thing led to the other and the strike took place and they called it off on the 30th, which was on Sunday.
“We reconvened at the Minimum Wage Committee on the 4th and 5th, and we had adequate representation of all the three partners. Tripartite means that three groups are negotiating; the first group is organised labour, the second is organised private sector and the third group is the government, which is called the authentic authority by the ILO.
“So, we met and if you also remember the contentious issue as per that meeting was for figures to be fixed and we had all proposed our figures, but throughout the negotiations, figures were readjusted; the labour unions adjusted their figures and came down to N30,000 per month, organised private sectors also adjusted their figures from N25.000 which they had earlier proposed to N30,000.
‘’The state government figure at the last time was N20,000, the Federal Government had a figure of N24,000 and that was where we all stood.”
It’s a lie, figure was agreed by c’ttee, Labour replies Ngige
Meanwhile, in a swift reaction last night, orgainsed Labour insisted that the tripartite committee agreed on a figure, which was adopted through a formal motion moved and seconded in the absence of any counter motion, saying the minister was being economical with the truth.
In a joint statement by Ayuba Wabba, Bobboi Kaigama and Joe Ajaero, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and United Congress of Nigeria, ULC, respectively, organised Labour, condemned perceived manipulation and bending of facts in an attempt to delay or derail the processes needed to promulgate a new National Minimum Wage.
The statement read: “It is rather unfortunate and sad if, indeed, the minister made those statements. For the avoidance of doubt, organised Labour representatives wish to state unequivocally that the tripartite committee concluded its work, adopted a figure through a formal motion moved, seconded and adopted in the absence of any counter motion.
“This was after a thorough debate of a report on a figure from the sub-committee, chaired by Senator Ngige himself, which presented four scenarios for consideration.
‘’The sub-committee worked on the basis of a figure proposed by the Federal Government, figures proposed by a number of state governments as well as proposals submitted by Organised Private Sector and Organised Labour.
“The committee formally adjourned its sitting with a decision that a date will be communicated to members for the signing of the report and submission of same to the President.
“Organised Labour, therefore, frowns on the manipulation and bending of facts in an attempt to delay or derail the processes needed to promulgate a new National Minimum Wage.
‘’We call on the government to take immediate necessary steps to ensure the enactment of a new National Minimum Wage as we cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony.”