I’m coming to Labour with experience ― Ngige

... Promises to resolve minimum wage crisis, varsity workers strike, work with trade unions ...Why ULC is not registered yet

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, declared on Wednesday that he will be coming back to the ministry and the Labour sector with a wealth of experience that would help him to do better.

Ngige, who was speaking shortly after he was sworn in for his second coming to the ministry, immediately promised to resolve the lingering problem over the consequential adjustment of the new N30,000 national minimum wage; the on-going varsity workers strike and other lingering crisis affecting the industrial relation sector and the world of works in the country.

Most importantly, he assured of a good working relationship with all the trade unions in the country and the two Labour centres- the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

On the fate of the United Labour Congress (ULC) seeking registration as a labour Center, the Labour minister explained why the ULC was not registered during his first tenure, and until now.

According to Ngige, while the extant labour law states that for a labour centre to be registered, it required a number of brand new affiliate trade unions, but many of the unions affiliated to ULC at present were old and already existing trade unions.

He said: “We are bringing the first experience, we have been there for 3 and a half years and the President has evaluated all our efforts and felt we should get back there. Going back there doesn’t mean we will go back there and sleep or we should be doing merry.”

The minister pointed out that there are many issues presently on the ground to tackle, saying, “we have so many outstanding issues to be addressed, some of them urgently. As we speak NASU, SSANU under the JAC are on strike and the university system is now going comatose so we have to address that urgently.”

He added: “The issue of minimum wage consequential adjustment; my permanent secretary is handling it and they have made some progress. By tomorrow we will get the notes from him and I and the minister of state will know how to queue in but the most important thing is that we want to make sure that the matter is addressed and as quickly as possible so we can put smiles on the faces of Nigerian workers.

“I am a man of due processes, if you are a man of due process you will be my friend. Do things the way it should be done and not abnormally.”

On his first coming, Ngige stated that Labour and employers have never had it so good, saying that “I put in all my energy in whatever assignment I am given and I did so in the Ministry of Labour in the last three and half years.

Assuring that he would have a good working relationship as he resumes duty tomorrow the minister said, “I remain committed to working with the labour unions, the NLC is a federation of some labour unions, you have other federations; we have the Trade Union Congress, we also have the United Labour Congress which has not been officially registered but there are some unions that are there.

“We have about 18 unions there the only reason why we have not registered them is that the unions are not brand new and the law says you must have 12 brand new unions but they are working. So, I am committed to working with the labour unions and labour federations.”

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