Minimum wage: FG, Labour meeting inconclusive
by Tony AKOWE,Abuja
Negotiation between the Federal Government and organized labour on the N30,000 minimum wage remained inconclusive at the end of another round of meeting last night in Abuja.
Both sides are scheduled to reconvene on Monday to take a final decision on the grey areas.
Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, told reporters at the end of a five -hour long meeting yesterday that substantial progress had been made in the discussion and that all that is left is a final resolution.
Ngige said there was no deadlock as the two sides agreed on most of the issues tabled for discussion and only adjourned to allow for further consultations.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari wanted the issue thrashed out and he would not have set up the tripartite committee on the minimum wage if he was not interested in the matter in the first place.
Also speaking, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, dismissed any idea that the meeting was deadlocked.
His words: “The meeting decided to adjourn and reconvene on Monday for us to do further consultations before the issues are concluded. We have discussed all the issues and all the grey areas, particularly how we can ensure that the issue is put behind us.
“That is why we took such a long time, including having a timeout to consult. But we have not been able to conclude and we have agreed to reconvene to tidy up 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. We also want to see how the money gets into the pocket of our workers because a lot of economic factors have affected the current wage.
“But the major issue is that we have been able to have a meaningful social dialogue. But the process is not conclusive and will reconvene on Monday.
“Monday is not too far from now since today is Friday.”
He said the outcome of Monday’s meeting would determine whether labour would proceed with its planned rallies on Tueday.
Continuing, he said: “Part of the report that was submitted is all inclusive of the main report and draft bill. But those processes which they need 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.”
The meeting started at about 12.50 pm with several breaks in between to allow for consultations with stakeholders including President Buhari.
The Nation gathered that the labour leaders insisted on a definite date when the government will transmit the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly, a decision the three ministers present could not take on their own.
Addressing the meeting earlier, Ngige said the President was committed to giving Nigerian workers a new minimum wage.
He said however that in addressing the issue, the government wanted to ensure that the new minimum wage was sustainable.
He said “I do realise that this is still part of the Christmas period and that people are still on holiday. You can see the two ministers in charge of government resources. The Minister of Budget and National Planning and the Minister of Finance. Mr. President specifically asked them to be part of this meeting. We had to cut short our vacation because of the need for us to discuss.
“You know that people can go to war when there is lack of information and in the process, people can misconstrue and speculate. We called this meeting as a result of the communique issued by the Joint Labour Centres after your executive meeting in Lagos when you informed government that you are not happy with the implementation processes of the report of the tripartite committee.”
President of the NLC, Comrade Aruba Wabba said the organised labour has always wanted all issues of industrial relations resolved through dialogue, adding that the issue on ground has nothing to do with money, but the process leading to the final outcome.
Wabba said “Clearly, we have always believed in social dialogue in resolving industrial relations issues. From the beginning of the issue of this new national minimum wage which was legally due in 2016, labour has demonstrated enough patience and understanding and has followed all the processes to make sure that we are able to dispense with this issue.”
Credit: The Nation