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Stalemate in new minimum wage talks

“The new minimum wage committee was inaugurated in November 2017 but started its assignment in March 2018, due to logistics reasons.”

Sunday Ani

There is stalemate in talks between the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Labour and Employment, and Organised Labour.

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has said the National Minimum Wage Committee is yet to submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari because it is yet to agree on a figure and the failure of the federal government to come up with a figure to be agreed upon.

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Wabba said this in a interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, in his office, in Abuja, yesterday.

He said that while the committee set up on the new minimum wage has concluded its deliberation, the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, told the committee that the federal government needed to consult before coming up with its own figure, a position he said negates an earlier agreement to work within its timeline.

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The minister told newsmen in Anambra that state governors were frustrating the committee’s work but Wabba said 21 states actually made presentation to the committee with many quoting figures while some others said they would abide by whatever decision was arrived at.

He said organised labour has called a meeting of all its organs, with a view to informing them of the development, pointing out that a definite position will be announced after the meeting as the new minimum wage is already two years behind scheduled.

“If you recall, the new minimum wage committee was inaugurated in November 2017 but started its assignment in March 2018, due to logistics reasons.

“At its inaugural meeting, all parties produced a work plan which spelt out the modus operandi and duration of the work of the committee.

“By the work plan, we were supposed to end our work and submit our report by August 21. Unfortunately, that date fell on a public holiday and so, it was agreed that the September 4 and 5 be used to complete the work of the committee.

“At that meeting, we were able to complete the entire report. But just before we concluded, the minister of Labour said as representative of the federal government, they needed to go and consult before arriving at a figure.

“The federal government came and said they have not finished their consultations and that they needed time to consult. But, it was all of us who took the decision to have a work plan.

“Clearly speaking, they were not prepared to produce a figure by that date. But our report has been completed. What is left is just to agree on a particular figure. All the parameters to be used to arrive at a figure are there.

“I can say clearly that states have sent in memorandum. Infact, 21 states sent in memorandum, with about 12 quoting figures, NECA has submitted a figure, organised labour has submitted a figure. What we thought was that we should be able to complete that assignment by September 5.

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Tokunbo David :Writer and editor.

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