New Minimum Wage Ready In Q3
The federal government has recently assured workers in the country that the new minimum wage would be announced before the end of the third quarter of 2018. Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, made this known in Abuja during the first series of public lectures to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC). This is just as the NLC warned those seeking to slowdown or frustrate the process of review of the minimum wage, saying they will be resisted. It said it was time to re-strategise and change its tactics during engagements with government and employers. In his address, Ngige said that the minimum wage is not something that the workers should be grumbling about because the wage will be ready not later than the third quarter.
He said, “In furtherance to the determination of the federal government to attain the Decent Work Agenda which involves opportunities for work that are productive and deliver a fair income, security in the work place and social protection for families, there have been overtime, three minimum wage reviews and currently the tripartite committee on national minimum wage is set to review the current minimum wage. “Memoranda are being reviewed for relevant bodies and persons to enable the determination of a new minimum wage for the nation. Better late than never because some state governors are still owing and cannot pay the current N18,000 minimum wage to workers.
“That is why we are ensuring we bring all stakeholders along and announce the new minimum wage at the appropriate time. But I can assure you that the third quarter is the maximum time the new minimum wage will be announced.” Ngige however warned workers to show respect to rights of employers during confrontation. He said, “It is pertinent to point out a misnomer that exists among trade unions in their pursuits of their relative happiness in terms of industrial relations. Most often I get trade dispute declarations on issues of appointment, discipline and promotion. “On these issues, the workers often have genuine cases and they are handled accordingly, with all intent to eliminate any unfair labour practices. “However, often the workers through their respective trade unions do over step by dictating to the employer who to appoint or otherwise.
This is not right. Workers cannot dictate to the employer how to run his business; also the employer has no business interfering with trade union affairs. “There is need for mutual respect in the nation’s industrial relation system to create an amicable industrial relations environment that will create wealth, sustainable development and growth for the good of all citizens.” The minister further noted that over the years the efforts of the federal government to ensure a sound industrial relations system by maintaining good employment relationship with labour had resulted in the establishment of a viable legal framework for labour administration. He said, “I must use this opportunity to implore the NLC to be mindful of trade disputes of interest. Although such disputes of interest may invariably transmute to disputes of rights, the NLC must always bear in mind that social dialogue remains the critical tool in pursuing disputes of interest in order to fully realize the intent of declaring the dispute in the first instance.”
On his part, NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, said at 40, the NLC is still relevant today, as it has ever been, adding that it cannot be wished away. According to Wabba, the NLC is today seen as a formidable force to be reckoned with by social partners and the entire society, stressing that increasingly, citizens look up to the NLC to resist anti-people policies that adversely affect them. He stated that the NLC defend the people when their rights are violated and play key roles in influencing and shaping public policy to the advantage of citizens. He said, “Today, we are still engaged in numerous contestations to protect our members and Nigerians as a whole. We are indeed clear that the architecture of the battlefield has changed from the militaristic control of politics and governance to an environment where democratic institutions such as the legislature, the executive, political parties and the judiciary are in existence.
“This scenario presents a golden opportunity for us to engage these institutions and we will continue to do so with the aim of securing concessions for our members and defend the rights of the general public. Our strategies and tactics may slightly change, but we will never deviate from our goals.” Wabba said having attempted to outline the desirability and the inevitability of reviewing the national minimum wage in the country, the legitimate demand for the review of the current N18, 000 minimum wage is borne out of the current reality of higher cost of living, free fall of the naira, and high cost of goods and services. He assured that NLC will continue to work with governments at all levels to find ways and means to upscale and maintain social protection regimes that can effectively contribute to walking millions out of poverty.
He continued: “Nevertheless, we will continue to resist casualization and the new forms of work that undermine decent work and threaten jobs. “We are prepared to deal with employers, especially governors who deny workers and pensioners their salaries and pensions. Workers, pensioners and their families will not give them any further political support, especially their votes.