The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba has described the recent statement by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige as provocative.
Wabba who made this known to LEADERSHIP in a telephone conversation said that the statement as volte face “by the Minister of Labour is not only provocative; it is also insensitive especially in the face of the excruciating suffering being endured by Nigerian workers particularly as occasioned by the increase in the cost of living.
“Do we need to remind the Minister that he was once a civil servant who always looked forward to his monthly salary? Nigerian workers who are not privileged to earn fat salaries, allowances, estacodes and other perks of political appointment are looking forward to enjoy minimal relief in the form of the new national minimum wage.”
The leadership of the NLC regards the gaffe as inconsistent with the fervour so far demonstrated by the tripartite committee set up by Mr. President to review the National Minimum Wage. The Minister’s stance is also at variance with the declaration made by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo when he represented Mr. President at this year’s May Day Celebrations. He Yemi Osinbajo promised Nigerian workers that government is committed to ensuring that the issue of the new National Minimum Wage is concluded and delivered.
According to him, “Our concern is “who is the Minister of Labour speaking for?” Nigerian workers want to know who has sent Dr. Chris Ngige on this nebulous errand. On whose side is the Minister of Labour on the upward review of the National Minimum Wage?
“Our position was that we would expedite actions at the level of the tripartite committee on the minimum wage and ensure that discussions and negotiations are concluded by August 2018 so that Nigerian workers can start benefitting as quickly as possible from the New National Minimum Wage.
“Finally, may we remind the Minister that the review of the National Minimum Wage is long overdue? The 2011 Belgore Tripartite Committee set up by government agreed that the review of the Minimum Wage should happen every five years? It is now close to eight years that the last review of the national minimum wage took place. Nigerian workers demand a Change in the humiliating culture of forcing workers to bargain too hard and wait too long for meager increases in their salaries.”
In addition, Wabba stressed that “It will be a great disservice to his boss; Mr. President, if he keeps taking for granted this very important issue of a new national minimum wage. For many Nigerian families, this is the difference between survival and extinction. The NLC, therefore, categorically rejects the continued delay in approving our demand of N66, 500 as the New National Minimum Wage.”