Tension as workers issue 14-day ultimatum

The Organised Labour, yesterday handed down a 14-day ultimatum to the federal government to allow the tripartite committee on the review of minimum wage to conclude its assignment or face an industrial action.
At a joint press conference in Lagos, South-west Nigeria, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, described as suspicious and outrageous, the pronouncement by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige that government needed to go and consult on the figure for the new wage.
They lamented that the new twist is a deliberate attempt by government to buy time, since the committee completed its work after due consultation.
The workers said, with this comment, they doubted government’s readiness to implement the new wage, since such pronouncement is coming at this material time.
“We view his latest pronouncement with great concern, suspicion and outrage.
This new antic certainly is not acceptable to Nigerian workers who had expected a new national minimum wage since 2016, but, who, out of uncommon sacrifice and patriotism, hearkened to government’s appeal and the process was delayed.
“You may wish to recollect that the National Minimum Wage Committee was inaugurated in November 2017, but commenced work in March 2018 with timelines to deliver on its mandate of arriving at a new national minimum wage in August/ September 2018.
“In the course of the work of the Committee, members had the ample time to consult.
In any case, the Committee was satisfied that it received memoranda and inputs from 21 state governments, specialised agencies of the Federal Government, the Organized Private Sector, Organised Labour and the general public,” the workers recalled.
Continuing, the labour leaders said: “We even recall that Dr.
Ngige himself had assured workers during the 40th anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in February this year that workers should expect a new national minimum wage in September this year.
“We wonder what has gone amiss between February 28 and now.
Or do we assume that the Honourable Minister is acting a script? In the light of this, his pronouncement is capable of rubbishing the work of the Committee as well as raising serious concerns about the readiness of the Government to accede to the putting together of a new national minimum wage.
“Beyond this, the minister’s pronouncement has generated considerable tension among workers and provoked sharp reactions from the unions, which justifiably argue that the government is only out to waste the time of workers and is not prepared to pay a new national minimum wage.
“For the sake of emphasis, the national minimum wage was not only legally due about two years ago, the increase in the pump price of petroleum products by this administration with fundamental consequential effects on the citizenry, the increase in electricity tariff, the massive devaluation of the Naira leading to a punitive exchange rate, and hyper-inflation, all of which led to a rising cost of living for workers and other Nigerians made a new national minimum wage not only necessary but urgent.” Organised Labour further expressed worry that the recommendations of the Technical Committee on Minimum Wage and Palliatives, chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, which was mandated to fashion out mitigatory strategy, policies, and programmes to cushion the vagaries of the increase in the pump price of petroleum products, have not been implemented to date.
They added that the present posturing of the minister, who functioned as Acting Chairman of that committee, brings back painful -memories of precious time wasted, energies dissipated and hopes betrayed.
“Coupled with this, the minister’s latest pronouncement goes to cast further doubt on the integrity of the government as well as underscores the inherent danger in doing business with Government.
“In view of the foregoing, we demand that government does all that is necessary to ensure that the Tripartite Committee is allowed to conclude its work within 14 days from today.
“We would want to use this opportunity to let the government and the whole world know that in the event that this demand is not met, we will not guarantee continued industrial peace and harmony,” the unions threatened.

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