“Next week we have an economic management team meeting on Tuesday, dedicated to the issue of national minimum wage to be chaired by the Vice President.”
– Buhari to get report soon – Ama Pepple
– Workers must smile before next election – Ngige
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will next week Tuesday preside over the Economic Management Team meeting, specially dedicated to the contentious issue of minimum wage.
Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige told this to State House Correspondents after he and the chairman of the negotiation committee, Ms Amma Pepple, a former Head of Service of the Federation, briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the progress made so far by the committee on Friday.
“Next week we have an economic management team meeting on Tuesday, specially dedicated to the issue of national minimum wage to be chaired by the Vice President. For anybody to say that this government is stalling or playing games will be uncharitable, because, we have done what we are supposed to do. We have the interest of workers at heart, we have not retrenched anybody, there is no embargo on employment, there is no embargo on promotions, we are paying backlog of promotional arrears, we are backing backlog of transfers and repatriation and the rest of them and we are giving them houses under FISH and the rest of them,” Ngige said.
“So this government is a labour-friendly government and we must put smiles on their faces before the next election…we are labour activists we don’t want to turn our backs on them.”
Pepple on her part said the committee will submit its report before the month end, adding however that they need a definite figure from government.
“Everything is on course, but we need a definite figure from government and of course we have to carry the states along. So, we need those figures so that we can conclude on the figures we include in our report,” she said.
On how soon the new minimum wage will be ready, Pepple said, “This month. At least I expect our report will be ready this month. We are submitting our report to Mr President this month.”
Ngige had on Thursday accused organised labour of blackmailing the government following their two-week ultimatum given for the conclusion of negotiations on the matter.
According to him, labour leaders were unnecessarily blackmailing and intimidating government to pass a new minimum wage that it may end up reneging on.
Ngige blamed certain factors such as the inability of governors to provide their figures to be debated by the committee negotiating the new minimum wage as one of the reasons for the delay, just as he assured that government was still within the timeframe it promised to deliver on a new minimum wage, and was not stalling the process as alleged by labour.
According to Ngige, the organised private sector had initially proposed a figure of N42,000 but later brought it down to N25,000, taking into account the current economic situation, ability to pay and ability to enhance and create new jobs
Organised labour had in May 2016 demanded a pay increase on the current N18,000 national minimum wage to N56,000. Buhari had in November 2017 inaugurated the National Minimum Wage Committee with a mandate of arriving at a new national minimum.
The federal government had assured workers during the 40th anniversary celebration of the NLC earlier in February that workers should expect a new national minimum wage by September.