Organised labour has given the federal government 14 days to reconvene the committee on a new minimum wage or risk industrial action.
Leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) frowned at the decision of Chris Ngige, minister of labour, to adjourn the work of the committee indefinitely.
Ayuba Wabba, NLC president, said the minister’s decision came at a time when the committee was finalising work to submit a figure to the government.
“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,” Wabba said while speaking with journalists on Wednesday.
“You may wish to recall 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, specialized agencies of the federal government, the organised private sector, organised labour and the general public.
“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.”
Wabba said the minister’s action has generated tension among workers and “provoked sharp reactions from the unions”.
He said the national minimum wage was not only necessary but urgent.
The labour leader said the minister’s action casts “further doubt on the integrity of the government as well as underscores the inherent danger in doing business with government”.
He added: “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.”