A part of steps to avert a nationwide strike over the contentious new national minimum wage, the Federal Government today meets with Labour representatives.
Ahead of the meeting, Minister of Labour & Employment Chris Ngige has pleaded with workers’ leadership to be patient with the government.
The development followed Tuesday’s announcement by Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) President Ayuba Wabba that workers should brace for an indefinite nationwide strike beginning from January 8.
It was learnt that the government plans to inform NLC on the steps so far taken on the Executive Bill for the enactment of N30, 000 as the New National Minimum Wage.
A source at the Ministry of Labour, who spoke in confidence, said:
”The truth is that the government is not delaying the Executive Bill on the new minimum wage, it is being worked on by the appropriate ministry.
“The bill itself is an amendment to the existing Act and it has to take cognizance of Pension Reform Act 2005, the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund Act and other laws.
“So, it requires being painstaking to avoid any ambiguity in view of the fact that the bill will have effect on some establishments too.
“The Friday meeting will afford the government the opportunity to brief the NLC on concrete steps taken and the timeline that the bill will be ready.
“So far, since the submission of the report of the tripartite committee, relevant ministries and agencies have been working on the executive bill.”
Confirming the scheduled government/labour parley, Dr. Ngige said: “The government team will meet with labour leaders on Friday (tomorrow). We are hopeful that we will be able to find common grounds. We have communicated the notice of meeting to the NLC.
“My appeal to our labour leaders is for them to be patient. We will resolve all issues and it won’t degenerate to a nationwide strike. President Muhammadu Buhari places premium on the welfare of workers.
“We are working on the Executive Bill, we only want to be through with it.”
Wabba said the reluctance of the government on the new bill on minimum wage strained the relationship between the government and the Labour.
He said: “It is unfortunate that the Federal Government is yet to transmit to the National Assembly an executive bill for the enactment of N30, 000 as the new national minimum wage.
”Government’s dilly-dallying on the issue has strained Government-Labour relations with a potential for a major national strike which could just be days away.
“I want to appeal to the government to do the needful by urgently transmitting the bill on the new national minimum wage to the National Assembly.
“We also would like to use this same opportunity to urge workers to fully mobilise for a prolonged national strike and enforce their rights.”
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