THE leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has cautioned Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment against shifting the September 2018 deadline for the implementation of the new minimum wage.
Ngige had earlier in February said that the Federal Government would announce a new minimum wage by September this year while speaking at the 40th anniversary of NLC.
He has however asked the workers to look beyond September 2018 for the implementation of the new minimum wage.
Ayuba Wabba, NLC President in a statement issued on Friday said Nigerian workers were shocked by that statement credited to the Minister.
According to him, the workers were 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.”
He said the current volte face by the Minister of Labour is 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 Federal Government in 2015 set up a tripartite committee including representatives of NLC and those of government to review the minimum wage upward to N56,000, though the labour body is already pushing for N66,500.
Nigerian workers are among the least paid in the world earning N18,000 as their minimum wage which is expected to be reviewed every five years, but it was reviewed last eight years ago.
Wabba reiterated that the leadership of the NLC regards the gaffe as inconsistent with the fervour so far demonstrated by the tripartite committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to review the National Minimum Wage.
He argued that his stance is also at variance with the declaration made by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo when he represented President Buhari at this year’s May Day Celebrations.
Osinbajo on behalf of the President promised Nigerian workers that government was committed to ensuring that the issue of the new National Minimum Wage was concluded and delivered.
Conveying the position of the labour body on the deadline, the NLC President said the Congress 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.
“It will be a great disservice to his boss; Mr. President, if he keeps taking for granted this very important issue of a new national minimum wage,” he said.
He stressed that the NLC, “categorically rejects the continued delay in approving our demand of N66,500 as the New National Minimum Wage.”
Calls to the telephone line of Samuel Olowookere, Deputy Director of Press at the Ministry of Labour and Employment to confirm the new deadline for the implementation of the new minimum wage were not successful as his mobile telephone line was switched off as at the time of filing this report.