The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has stated that negotiations concerning the increase of the set national minimum wage will begin this month when the 29-member tripartite committee begins operation.
The Minister disclosed this while speaking with reporters at the ongoing 106th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland.
However, he added that employers have stated that paying the stipulated N56,000 minimum wage demanded by Labour might be a problem, all involved parties had agreed that the N18,000 minimum wage was no longer realistic.
The minister said “The issue of minimum wage is a tripartite thing involving the employers, workers and the government and the three of us are talking and have agreed that there is the need to review the issue of minimum wage in Nigeria. The government also agreed that there is the need to pay for short fall of salary arrears, promotion arrears and other earned allowances and they can also attest to that. That is why they have not reported us here of subjugation because we have taken bold steps and initiated payment in that same direction.”
“Before I left home, N10 billion was already being processed for the promotion allowances arrears. Also, the sum of N14.6 billion had been expended in the area of salaries. If we go back home, we have other machineries and plans to go into the bond market and get some funds to offset all these arrears in one full swipe.”
When asked about when the new minimum wage issue will be resolved, he said “You cannot fix a time limit for the new minimum wage because it is a negotiation that is ongoing. But we are sure and we have seen the reason there must be an increase. Some people have taken their position. The workers have demanded N56,000 and the employers have said we cannot pay N56,000. But everything being said now is outside the orbit of the negotiation table. When the committee comes into force, then actual discussion will start and that committee will come into force in this month.”
Meanwhile, the President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, noted that while organized labour were worried about the delay in the commencement of negotiation, they have gotten commitment from all levels, including the National Assembly that they are ready to make sure that the issue is addressed once and for all.
Leave your views in the comment box below.