The federal government yesterday reached an agreement with organised labour to shelve its planned industrial action and allow it till January 23 to transmit an executive bill to the National Assembly for the passage of the new minimum wage, Leadership reports.
Labour unions had threatened to embark on a strike action to force President Muhammadu Buhari to transmit the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly. But speaking at the resumed meeting between government and labour, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige told the labour leaders that protests are no longer necessary because the federal government has a target time of January 23, 2018 to begin the process of perfecting the new minimum wage.
Ngige said, “As for the transmission of the executive bill to the National Assembly, the government will religiously implement all the processes that will enable us transmit this bill within the stipulated time. “We will take all statutory meetings of the Federal Executive Council, National Economic Council and the National Council of State meetings to enable us transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage. Protests are no longer necessary”.
In his reaction, NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, said labour now has a clear understanding of government’s processes and will put the decision reached across to its members. He said, “We thank the minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige for his role to get this process to where it is. We have made a lot of sacrifice and commitment, spending three days on meetings on this issue. We have finally been able to reach a clear understanding on the processes and timeline for this bill to be transmitted. “We are committed to the process and hope that the timeline will be respected. We will put this across to our organs and give them all the details contained in the Memorandum of Understanding.
“You will recall that our demand is for the bill to be transmitted to NASS. We want a firm commitment so that we don’t come round a cycle. We want the agreement to be documented and signed by government representatives. With that, we can follow up on the process hoping. “This thing has been on the table for more than two years and having submitted the report, we expect that the bill should have been submitted. The NASS will be back on January 16 from their recess; so, on or before January 23, the bill must have been transmitted. We know that the NASS are desirous of making sure that workers in Nigeria have decent wage, they will also be able to do the needful. We will shift our lobby to the NASS because once the bill is enacted the money will be in the pocket of the workers”.
“Issues of industrial relations are always addressed at the round table. We have been diligent in the whole process and workers have been patient. Clearly, we have carried them along; that is why whenever we want them to be around they are always around. Meanwhile, organised Labour yesterday held a nationwide protest against governors who are not in support of the N30, 000 new minimum wage. The protest, which held simultaneously across the country, saw labour leaders calling on governors to support the new minimum wage or face the wrath of the workers. Speaking during the protest in Abuja, NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, said state council chairmen in all the states of the federation have also been served a protest letter. He said, “Today in every government house in Nigeria, protest is being transmitted to all our political leaders, governors at the state levels and here we are in the office of the Minister of the FCT, who is also like the governor. “We are here to submit our letter of protest and demand, like our states councils are doing in their various states right now, to the FCT minister for onward transmission to Mr President.
“We want to call on Mr President for the onward transmission of the bill to the National Assembly, as the protest rally serves as a warning before a nationwide strike.” In Lagos, the United Labour Congress chairman, Comrade Solomon Adenekan, who led the protest, insisted that the government must approve the N30,000 minimum wage and nothing less. Adenekan said, “The protest is about implementation; it has no link with the transmission. We are trying to see how the bill will be transmitted to the National Assembly.
“The protest is about how to get all parties committed to the issue of minimum wage. It is different from how we get this bill transmitted with timeline to the National Assembly”. Also speaking, Comrade Tokunbo Korodo, noted that the federal government is ready to pay the agreed minimum wage but the state governors are the one slowing the presentation of the bill to the National Assembly.
“We should vote out all governors that are not ready to pay the minimum wage. No going back; N30,000 minimum wage is the final workers need to make sure life is meaningful”, he said. The protest led the union to the governor’s office to present a letter to the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who was not around to receive the workers.