By Aluta News
Jan. 23, 2024
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has again urged the federal government to inaugurate the National Minimum Wage Committee, to give it ample time to do its work diligently.
TUC’s Deputy President, Mr Tommy Okon, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, in Lagos, that the failure to inaugurate the committee, three months to the expiration of the current minimum wage, was worrisome.
He said that organised labour would not want to be put under pressure on the wage increase, because it had to be done in line with the rule of engagement.
The labour leader said that organised labour had since submitted the list of members that would be part of the committee for the minimum wage negotiations.
“Whatever intention of government is not known to us, because by now, the committee should have been inaugurated.
“We do not want a situation where the work of the committee is done under desperation because this is January, and the N30,000 national minimum wage will expire on April 18, this year (2024).
“So, it is expected that by now the committee will have been inaugurated and a chairman of the committee appointed, because it is tripartite in nature, and the committee has to conduct the activities also on zonal bases.
“Thereafter, it will come to a conclusion where, whatever will be agreed, will also be sent to the National Assembly, which in turn, will also look at the public hearing, and thereafter, sent to Mr President for assent, “ he said.
Okon said there were both positive and negative implications in further delay of setting up the committee.
According to him, the positive is in the sense that government may have agenda unknown to labour and trying to be sure of what it wants to come out with.
“However, the negative implication is that it may send a wrong signal that government is not willing to negotiate the national minimum wage and that that will be a very wrong impression if the public is taking that as the position.
“Also, Nigerian workers and the masses are not finding it easy because of the socio economic challenges.
“We know that the N30,000 minimum wage cannot do anything, must less of transportation, payment of house rent, children’s school fees, even taking care of some life threatening challenges.
“So, these are the implications; it is also going to send a negative signal to even international communities because now, we are talking about transition to energy; these are things that need to be put in place, “ Okon said.
He said the issue of the National Minimum Wage review was a task that must be done well.
The Federal Government had on Jan. 17 pledged to fulfill its agreements with organised labour.
Mrs Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, made this known during a courtesy visit to the office of the TUC in Abuja.
Onyejeocha said that government appreciated the plight of the trade unions and was ready to partner, but the channels of communication must be kept open.
“Government is working round the clock to ensure that agreements with trade unions are fulfilled,” she had said.
She also said that President Bola Tinubu was focusing on making sure that the issue of a new national minimum wage was addressed.
Onyejeocha added that the federal government would ensure that the committee started work in earnest.
The minister also assured that the government would soon clear the arrears of the N35,000 wage award for workers, which it had started paying.
Recall that the government agreed to pay the wage award to cushion the effect of the removal of petrol subsidy on workers, pending the commencement of the imminent new national minimum wage.
The minister assured the TUC leadership of government’s continued readiness to listen to them, as well as partner with them for the greater good of the people.