Minimum wage: FG moves to avert nationwide strike

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Fidelis Soriwei

The Federal Government may have commenced moves to prevent the looming nationwide strike over the delay in the payment of the new minimum wage of N18, 000.

Already, the National Council of State has schedule a meeting on the minimum wage issue within the week to set the stage for the fowarding of a bill to the National Assembly on the matter.

The national executive of the Nigeria Labour Congress had last week issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government l to implement the minimum wage or face a three day warning strike, which the NLC said would be followed by an indefinite national strike.

The President and General Secretary of the NLC, Abdulwahed Omar and John Odah who signed the communiqué issued at the end of the NEC meeting, accused the Federal Government of colluding with operators of the private sector to scuttle the payment of the new minimum wage.

But the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, said in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Friday, that the planned strike was not necessary and would not take place.

Wogu said the Federal Government had good trade union relations and would take necessary steps to ensure the resolution of the impasse over the new wage.

Though, Wogu was not specific on whether the government had commenced discussions with the representatives of the labour movement, there were speculations that such a move was not out of place.

He explained that the delay in the implementation of the minimum wage was not deliberate but was attributable to the procedure that had to be followed for it to take effect.

He said that efforts would be made to make the necessary explanation to representatives of labour, stressing that labour needed information on the contentious issue.

He also said that with the recent salary structure approved by President Goodluck Jonathan for workers in the Federal Civil Service, the least paid civil servant would earn N17,000.

The minister said the implementation of the minimum wage was not as easy as the process would affect not only the Federal Government but also the states and local governments.

He said that the issue of the minimum wage, which must pass through the National Assembly, was already at the final stage of being placed before the Council of States.

Nwogu said that the presidential approval of the new salary structure for workers in the civil service portrayed in clear terms that Jonathan was committed to the welfare of the Nigerian worker.

He said, “This thing has its procedure. We have to place it before the National Assembly. In fact, it is at the final stage of being brought before Council of States.

“There is no cause for alarm, the problem with labour is that they need information on the issue and we will handle that.”


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