UPDATED: Minimum Wage: FG meeting with labour leaders inconclusive

Labour and Nigerian government negotiations
Labour and Nigerian government negotiations

The Friday meeting between the federal government and labour unions ended without an agreement.

The meeting was organised to prevent the planned January 8 protest by labour unions.

The planned protest by the labour unions is to demand that President Muhammadu Buhari submit a bill to the parliament for the implementation of N30,000 minimum wage for workers.

While addressing journalists at the end of the Friday meeting, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, said the meeting has been adjourned till 5 p.m. on Monday.

Mr Wabba said organised labour believes in dialogue in resolving industrial disputes.

“We have had a social dialogue bothering on the national minimum wage as you are aware and the meeting decided to adjourn and reconvene on Monday for us to do further consultations before the issues are concluded,” he said.

“But we have not been able to conclude and we have agreed to reconvene to tidy the process. The issue at stake is to make sure that the bill is transmitted and also other auxiliary issues that government says they are trying to put together.

He said the rally on January 8 will be determined by Monday’s meeting.

“Those processes which then need to be followed to ensure that a clean bill is transmitted to the National Assembly and what they now termed some physical issues are what we will tidy up on Monday. So, let us wait for that Monday,” he said.

In his reaction, the labour minister, Chris Ngige, who led the government delegation, said the government has made progress with the workers.

”We are still discussing and will continue on Monday. We need to make further consultations before the issues are concluded,” he said.

“So, we are discussing on ways to fast track and we are taking appropriate steps as required by us by law.

“Mr President is more committee to this as he was the one that set of the Tripartite Committee on the minimum wage and even inaugurated them and also put in all the resources. And so he his ready for it and also received the report too,” he said.

“So, we are now working on the report and the report is in a raw form, it has to milled before transmission,” he said.

Mr Ngige earlier said at the start of the meeting that it was called as a result of the communique issued by the labour unions on the protest.

“The national minimum wage is an existing act that needs amendment. So, it is not a question of only money, ” he said.

He said the moment the bill gets to the National Assembly, it will become the business of all Nigerians.

“There are things that we need to do before sending the bill to the National Assembly and do it in a way to maintain the sustainable status of the minimum wage. This why we have called you and for you to suggest to us,” he said at the start of the meeting.

The meeting, which started at 12:50 p.m., went on recess at 3:20 p.m. and reconvened at 4:28 p.m.

The meeting went on break because President Buhari summoned Mr Ngige, the finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, and the budget minister, Udoma Udoma, for an emergency meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has been at loggerheads with the federal government over a new minimum wage.

The NLC and other labour unions demand that the national minimum wage be increased to N30,000 from the current N18,000.

State governors have, however, said they would not be able to pay the N30,000 minimum wage.

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