THE Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has again reaffirmed its position on the proposed national minimum wage, saying it is done with further negotiations but for the Federal Government to honour its 23rd January deadline.
The labour disclosed this on Thursday during a popular TV show on Channels following the inauguration of an Advisory Technical Committee by President Muhammadu Buhari, held at the Presidential Villa, Wednesday in Abuja.
The process leading to the new agreement started with the inauguration of a tripartite committee for the negotiation of a new national minimum wage in November 2017.
It is on record that since 1981 when the first minimum wage was passed, this is considered the longest negotiation in Nigerian history.
Part of the functions of the advisory group is to advise the federal government on how to effectively implement the proposed new minimum wage and new sources of funding for the government.
Aside, it is meant to further propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation.
However, labour has noted that “the hopes of Nigerian workers have been suspended for a very long time,” thus it is solely concerned with the passage of the bill to the National Assembly (NASS).
Speaking on behalf of the labour, NLC Assistant General Secretary, Asuzu Echezona noted that irrespective of the 30 days deadline for the advisory committee, chaired by Bismark Rewane the union is more interested about anticipated actions from the President on the bill and not the set date disparities.
“For us, when the issue of the committee came up, labour made its position very clear and the position was that Nigerian workers have come to the end of negotiations as far as the issue of new minimum wage is concerned,” he stated.
President Buhari had issued a 30-day deadline for the newly inaugurated committee to submit its recommendations while the Labour’s deadline to the president is 23rd January.
By Friday 8th February, barely a week to the general election, the deadline would have elapsed.
“There is already a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government and labour that the new national minimum wage bill of N30, 000 as agreed by the tripartite committee will be transferred to the NASS on or before 23rd January 2019,” Echezona added.
The NLC, in December 2018 during its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja, had rejected the proposed plan by the President to the technical committee on the new minimum wage implementation.
Other members of the high powered technical committee inaugurated on Wednesday are the Statistician-General Dr. Yemi Kale, Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris; Director-General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, Former Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs. Ibukun Odusote and others.
“The committee, I think is for the government to be able to tidy up its house to ensure seamless implementation of the new national minimum wage once it is enacted into law by the NASS upon transmission of the bill to the NASS by Mr President on or before 23rd of Jan. 2019.
“So, what government does is government business. What labour is concerned about is that this bill is transmitted to the NASS on or before 23rd of Jan. The truth of the matter is that workers have actually held forth all these while giving the government the benefit of the doubt to do the needful,” the Labour representative noted.