By Obioma C. Appolos
The Minister of Labour and Employment Sen. Chris Ngige, has said that the federal government is poised to quickly resolve all issues that are delaying the effective implementation of the new minimum wage.
He stated that government is carefully handling the consequential adjustment issue of the new wage rate being the bane of the delay, and explained that it is necessary that government comprehensively consider the adjustments in line with the economic realities of the country and agree with workers, to avoid running into deep waters when it is time for payment.
A delegation of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) led by its president Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who were on a courtesy visit to the Minister on his re-appointment as the minister of labour, had in their earlier remarks asked the Minister to look into the issue of the consequential adjustment of the new ‘minimum wage negotiation committee that was broken down due to a disagreement between government and workers.
Wabba, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, pledged NLC’s cooperation in working with the Minister going forward, he however, entreated him to take a result oriented actions on burning issues such as the future of work (decent jobs), casualization of workers in private sector, institutionalization of social dialogue forum in view to industrial harmony and peace, registration of new unions and of course the new minimum wage.
In his response, Ngige said; “The issue of the new national minimum wage will be sorted out for the other cadre (level 7 upward) and I am very hopeful it will be as soon as possible.
“it is unfortunate that negotiations was deadlocked from levels 7 till 17, and issues became on what percentage or slides that they should use on the sliding scale, the good thing is that we are going to discuss and negotiate it. It is a Collective Bargaining Arrangement (CBA), if we talk strictly about the minimum wage, it is already being implemented, because the minimum wage is for the person on the lower rung of the ladder.
“Before I got into this meeting, I tried to look for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, because the logical thing for us to do since we have all agreed is to reconstitute our own representation, they have to hand over to us, wherever they stopped.
“Luckily, the President has also put in place a new committee, called Presidential Committee on Salaries (PCS), The former head of service reported to us on progress. It is important that we advise them that if they keep on piling debts, the federal government might go into problem of payments, the state governments that have always not been regular with payments will have problem.
“The best thing to do is for them to send down this to the state and show the example by paying. The state government as at today are duty bound, and they now have the template to pay level 1-6, and they are plenty, when we reconstitute our committee, I do not see us not agreeing, we can disagree, but we will eventually agree.
“I am one of those who believe that a workman is due his wages, if you work, in a vineyard, you will eat from that vineyard, and you will eat all of the fruits that are In the vineyard. So It is unfortunate that the consequential adjustment negotiation was deadlocked over the issue of what percentage to pay the higher cadre, but the important thing is that we will reconvene and negotiate and come to agreement.
“So there must be a consequential movement and government is not averse to doing the consequential movement. What we are saying is that we should try for all parties to agree that the economy is in trouble and therefore we have to cut our coat according to our clothe. We are trying to balance the issues and we must balance them so that we don’t run into issues with the laws of the land.
“The unions of NLC and TUC have not been involved, but when we come back, we will involved you so that we can have a speedy movement in this respect.”