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14 Sep 2018

Osinbajo to chair minimum wage meeting Tuesday

Towards resolving the minimum wage issue, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, will next week Tuesday preside over the Economic Management Team (EMT) meeting to be dedicated to the issue.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, at the end of meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari alongside the chairman of the negotiation committee, Ms Amma Pepple.

According to him, they briefed President Buhari on Friday on the progress so far made by the committee.

He said “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.

“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.” he said

Pepple, a former Head of Service of the Federation, said the committee will submit its report before the month ends.

According to her, they need a definite figure from government.

She said “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.”

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 on Thursday had accused the organised labour of blackmailing the government following a two-week ultimatum given for the conclusion of negotiation on the matter.

According to him, the 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 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

The organised labour had in May 2016 demanded a pay rise 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.

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