Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, will on Tuesday September 18 preside over the Economic Management Team meeting, specially dedicated to the new minimum wage issue.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, disclosed this to State House Correspondents on Friday, after he and the Chairman of the minimum wage negotiation committee, Ms Amma Pepple, briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the progress so far made by the committee.
“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 with the minimum wage issue 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 paying 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,” the Labour Minister stated.
Pepple on her part said the committee will submit its report before the month end, adding however that they need a definite figure from government.
According to her, “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 had on Thursday accused the organised labour of blackmailing the government, following a two-week ultimatum given by labour leaders, for the conclusion of negotiation on the minimum wage 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.
He 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.
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.