Federal Govt, Labour head for showdown over Minimum Wage

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The Federal Government and organised Labour are heading on a collision course over the minimum wage.

Labour went on a warning strike last month t press the government to revive the tripartite meeting on the new wage proposal.

The strike was called off after an Ocotber 4 date was picked by the government for the resumption of talks.

Yesterday, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige told reporters after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Villa that the government cannot afford to pay more than N24,000 up from the current N18,000, as minimum wage.

But Labour reiterated its resolve not to agree with anything less than N30,000.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Ayuba Wabba said: “We as organsied labour will be meeting tomorrow (today) in Lagos after which we will brief newsmen on the outcome of our decision.”

United Labour Congress (ULC) President Joe Ajaero said organised labour had been taken for granted by Ngige.

Ajaero said with the way things are going on the new minimum wage, it might lead to an indefinite industrial strike.

“We as members of the ULC, we are not happy, initially we were asking for N90, 000 as the new National Minimum Wage for workers.

“But due to the Organised Private Sector’s appeal to the organised labour, we decided to fix it at N30, 000 for affordability.

“Right now if you look at what economy is talking about, you will find out the N30, 000 is nothing to write home about.

“Are these not agencies of government that are charging such, why would the Federal Government says that they cannot pay N30, 000.

He called on the Federal Government to have a rethink by ensuring that the agreement reached by the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage was approved and implemented to avoid industrial action in the country.

President, Trade Union Congress (TUC) Bobbio Kaigama, said the organised labour was waiting to be called by the Chairman, Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage for the signing of the agreement.

He added: “Who said we have not concluded our meeting. Who said that the Federal Government cannot pay the agreed figure.”

Ngige added: “Minimum Wage may be understood to mean the minimum sum payable to a worker for work performed or services rendered, within a given period, whether calculated on the basis of time or output, which may not be reduced either by individual or collective agreement, which is guaranteed by law and which may be fixed in such a way as to cover the minimum needs of the worker and his or her family, in the light of national economic and social considerations that should be taken into account in determining their rates.

“In practice, National Minimum Wage in Nigeria is a conglomeration of total remuneration due to a worker and does not refer to only the basic wage.

“In other words, National Minimum Wage is inclusive of the basic pay and any other allowance due to a worker, and is hence, his or her remuneration.

“Employers, whether in Private or Public Sector, can pay more than the National Minimum Wage based on “ability to pay”.

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