Labour Counters Ngige on New Minimum Wage

The organised labour and organised private sector yesterday insisted that all negotiations for a new minimum wage had been concluded.

This debunked a claim by Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige that the Federal Government was yet to reach an agreement with the organised labour to increase the nation’s minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000.

Ngige, who said discussions were ongoing, told reporters after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting: “This information becomes very pertinent because I saw all your papers, the dailies yesterday (Tuesday) awash with the news that we have all agreed on N30,000. That is not true. The Federal Government has not agreed on N30,000.”

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Ayuba Wabba, while reacting to a claim by Ngige, said in an interview with The Guardian that: “The meeting was reconvened on Thursday and it worked on the same Thursday and Friday last week. The meeting actually concluded all negotiations on Friday. There was a sub-committee on the issue of figure, which was chaired by the minister. The committee had four scenarios. Those four scenarios were a collection of facts and data that were proposed by the tripartite body and some specialised institutions that included NECA, NLC, TUC and government. At the end of the deliberation, a figure was arrived at and a motion was moved in that respect and it was adopted.”

Wabba hinted that what was outstanding was the submission of the report to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said it was strange that the minister would say that negotiations had not been concluded. “We do not know what the minister wants to achieve by constantly courting controversies where there are none. The organised labour will also respond officially because this matter is an official one,” he said.

Also, the director-general designate of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Timothy Olawale, said in an exclusive interview that negotiations had been concluded.

He said: “We are through with our assignment. I am telling you as a member of the tripartite committee that all the negotiations have been concluded. We are just waiting for a date with the president, to submit the report to him. But as far as negotiations are concerned, we are done with that.”

It is understood that while both the organised labour and private sector adopted N30,000, the minister pushed for N25,000, citing the ability-to-pay clause of International Labour Organisation Convention 131.

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