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FG can only afford N24,000 minimum wage, Ngige insists

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THE Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige says contrary to report that the federal government had agreed to pay N30,000 as the new minimum wage to workers, the government can actually pay N24,000.

While speaking in Abuja at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, the Minister said the federal government has not shifted ground on its N24, 000 proposal, saying the issue of national minimum wage is a law that is binding on all.

“It is not cast in stone that because two sectors have agreed on N30, 000, it should be binding on others. The issue of national minimum wage is a law that is binding on all,” he said.

According to him, the state governments, the private sector and the organized labour proposed N20,000, N25,000 and N30,000 as national minimum wage respectively.

He added that the federal government would continue to discuss with the organized labour and all other stakeholders informally to arrive at a figure.

The Organised Labour, comprising of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has proposed N56, 000 as minimum wage for workers.

The two labour bodies directed their members to commence an indefinite strike nationwide on September 27 following failure of government to meet their request on the new minimum wage.

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The five-day strike which paralised economic and other activities across the country was suspended on September 30 to  give room for negotiation between the labour representatives and the government team.

The federal government said it proposed N24,000 as the new minimum wage for civil servants after consultations.

There have been media reports quoting the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba as saying that the tri-partite committee discussing the demand for new minimum wage has agreed to increase it from the current N19,200 to N30,000.

Ngige said, “such information is not true.”

He explained that when the committee reconvened on October 5, after the NLC had called off its nationwide strike, “the organised labour came down to N30,000, the organised private sector came down to N25,000.”

He also said the federal government had to consult with the 36 state governors, adding that the government is still “consulting and negotiations is ongoing.”

He said in accordance with Convention 131 of International Labour Organisation, the most important thing to consider in fixing the new minimum wage is the ability to pay.

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