Government Still Consulting On Minimum Wage-Ngige

Gerard Izuora 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Wednesday in Abuja said the Federal Government and the organised labour have not reached an agreement on the new National Minimum Wage.

He said the government was still consulting and negotiation was still ongoing.

Ngige, who briefed State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, dismissed media reports that the committee had agreed on N30, 000 as new minimum wage.

The FEC meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said that the Federal Government had proposed N24,000 per month to the tripartite committee – organised labour, organised private sector and government – involved in the negotiation.

According to him, the federal government is careful so that it will not agree on a figure that will weigh down on State Governments or lead to retrenchment.

He said that upon the committee reconvening on Oct. 4, labour adjusted its figures down to N30, 000 per month while the organised private sector adjusted its own from N25, 000 to N30,000.

“The state governments’ figure last time was N20,000; the federal government had a figure of N24,000 and that was where we all stood.

“These negotiations took into account these irreducible offers from the different governments but we could not arrive at a consensus.

“Even though we adjourned that meeting and said we would put up a report that will reflect this position, we are still continuing to discuss informally to see if we can arrive at a common figure.

“So, discussions are still ongoing and that is where we are. This becomes very pertinent because I saw all the papers.

“The dailies yesterday were awash with the news that we have all agreed on N30,000. That is not true; the federal government has not agreed on N30,000.

“The federal government also is carrying the states along with it because a lot of the workers are in the states and it is a very sensitive matter.

“We cannot because the issue of minimum wage is item 34 in the exclusive list, fix an amount which the state governments will find difficult to pay,’’ he said.

Ngige said that under the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the cardinal principle of wage fixing mechanism was capacity to pay.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari had reiterated that no worker should be retrenched or denied his/her promotion while recruitments to replace retired or dead civil servants should continue to be done.

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