– Ife Adedapo
The Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association have expressed support for the Nigeria Labour Congress’ request for N56,000 minimum wage.
While NECA said the N56,000 demand by the organised labour was morally right, the ministry affirmed that the demand for the review of the National Minimum Wage was legitimate.
A week before the May Day celebration, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria proposed a new minimum wage of N56,000 to the Federal Government.
The President, NLC, Wabba Ayuba, had said that regardless of the fact that the economy was in a bad shape, the law made it clear that a review of the minimum wage was due.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, said that the demand by labour for the review of the minimum wage was being carefully studied and would be responded to appropriately.
He debunked the notion that whenever the labour made such a demand, it meant that the workforce was at loggerheads with the government.
While receiving the executive members of the Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa, he said, “At the appropriate time, we shall all sit down because what the labour is asking for is the re-negotiation of an existing Collective Bargain Agreement. And every CBA based on an agreement is subject to re-negotiation at any given time that any of the partners requests it.”
He explained that an official request had been received and a tripartite negotiation with other partners would commence, without giving room for industrial unrest.
The Director-General, NECA, Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo, in an interview, stated the principle of duration was discussed in the last tripartite discussion on minimum wage, saying five years duration was agreed on by all parties but was not backed by the law.
He said, “We all agreed that after five years, we should review the national minimum wage. It is not backed by the law. There is the aspect of the legality and there is the aspect of the morality. We do not have five years in the National Minimum Wage Act.
“Yes it was discussed. A recommendation emanated from the tripartite committee that five years will be a reasonable period in which to review it. By my experience in industrial relations, I think morality should take precedence over legality.”