The Organised Labour has insisted that the Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage has concluded its assignment for onward submission to President Muhammadu Buhari. Mr Joe Ajaero, President, United Labour Congress (ULC), said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ajaero was reacting to the statement made by Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, that there was no agreement yet by the National Minimum wage Committee on the new Minimum wage figure in the country. Ngige had said negotiations were still ongoing and the capacity to pay by employers remained the guiding principles. NAN also recalled that Mr Ayuba Wabba, president, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had also stated that the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage had completed its assignment for onward submission to President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Ajaero, this is all politics; the true story is that at resumption of the hearing of the committee on the first day which was Oct. 4, government did not show any seriousness. “So, on Friday, Oct. 5, government came with a proposal of either N20,000 or N21,000 which Labour rejected outright; they now moved almost to N24,000 and Labour rejected it again, while the employers were still on N25,000. “But the state governments were either on N20,000 or so and there was almost a stalemate. So government then went out for consultation and by the time they came back, they brought about three scenarios.
“The three scenarios they brought forward were either N38,000, N35,000 or N34,000 but the Organised Private Sector (OPS) appealed to labour on the need to harmonise,’’ he stated. Ajaero stated that the OPS noted that they were facing a lot of challenges affecting their businesses and that since they would be at the receiving end there was need to reach a consensus.The ULC president further said that based on the private sector request, the sub-committee which Ngige was chairing moved a motion that N30,000 be adopted.
He added that the meeting agreed that they should go ahead to print clean copy in order for all parties to sign. “So, if actually there is anything remaining it is only to sign the clean copy of N30,000,’’ he said. He also noted that the committee agreed that on the day the clean copy would be presented to Mr President that all parties should be present to sign. He also said that it was agreed that nobody should disclose the figure reached by the committee to the public. “That is why none of us or any of the centres of organised labour has been able to disclose the amount.
“Right now, I would not know what has happened and I would not know why the Minister of Labour would be saying negotiations have not been concluded. “Besides that, even the Chairman and members of the committee knew there was no more money and the budget given to the committee has been exhausted even to hold further meetings; this is the situation. “I want to say again, that we have discussed and have agreed on certain amount and government should come out and announced it rather than this dilly dally,’’ Ajaero said.
He, however, said that the N30,000 agreed upon was to ensure that the organised private sector businesses did not collapse. He also said that organised labour would soon issue a statement on its position.