Minimum Wage implementation: Federal govt is putting deadline ― Labour Minister

Regrets delay

THE Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen Chris Ngige, has declared that the Federal Government is putting a deadline to the delay in the implementation of the new N30,000 national minimum wage, saying that the delay since the Presidential assent of the bill in April, is regrettable.

To this end, the Federal Government has directed immediate conclusion of negotiation on the consequential adjustment between the government team and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, to pave way for immediate commencement of the implementation.

Ngige, who was speaking during a meeting with the leadership and members of the Labour Correspondents Association of Nigeria (LACAN) in Abuja, however, hinged the delay on a brief “compulsory leave” by the ministers, after which the permanent secretaries took up the negotiation.

“It is the determination of the President and this administration to fast track the negotiation on consequential adjustment. I have just received a correspondence from the Chief of Staff to the President and we are putting a deadline to that negotiation. We are fast-tracking it because the government will also want to put in place a Presidential Committee on Salaries and Allowances that will be able to take request after this consequential adjustment.

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“It is a pity that after signing it, Many came and a lot of us were sent on compulsory leave,” the minister said.

According to him: “The President is committed to recreating the middle class in Nigeria. He is committed to lifting at least 100 million people out of poverty and that is the only way for our economy to improve. When our economy improves, we would deal a big blow to poverty, social insecurity and also the insecurity of lives and property. We have to make our country a better place because we cannot run away from that. We all have a collective responsibility.

“This Ministry will come out with many programmes that will help the government to recreate the middle class that has vanished from the country. We have a situation now where you have the top-most rich who are very rich and those at the bottom. Even down there at the bottom, you still have people who cannot be compartmentalised into the middle class.

“The government is trying its best. We have many programmes that have kept people at work. We have refused redundancy being declared, we are fighting casualisation and we are not happy with contract appointment. We don’t want a contract appointment in the private sector. We want people given their jobs with full benefit.

“My department of the inspectorate, as well as Employment and Wage, are going to do more. We are going to fund them so that we can start full factory inspection and make sure that nobody is under-employed and that those in employment get what they deserved in the world of work so that they can have decent work.

“Part of it is the new minimum wage which the President signed in April. It is a pity that after signing it, May came and a lot of us were sent on compulsory leave. We are now coming back from leave. If you remember, a committee was set up and I was a member. When we left, the Permanent Secretary took our place and were negotiating with the Joint Negotiating Council on the consequential adjustments.

“The states are waiting for that and it is not proper for us not to fast track that negotiation so that even the states will not have too much back-log to pay when the consequential adjustment is concluded. We have our own budgeted for in the 2019 budget and we are going to also budget for it in the 2020 budget. We are concerned about the states because some of the states are not proactive like us. So, the sooner we conclude at the federal level and the Joint Negotiating Councils in the states takes it from there and negotiate with the states, the better for everybody.

“If we spill this into next year, I am not sure how many states will be able to pay the backlog which will lead us to another round of negotiation.”

He stated further: “We are fast-tracking it because the government will also want to put in place a Presidential Committee on Salaries and Allowances that will be able to take request after this consequential adjustment.

“Before then, that same committee will appraise the level of workload and evaluate all cadre of work and come out with salaries and allowances commensurate with each. It is one of the things that the government has decided and I have just seen the correspondence.

“When the details are out, we will let you know. That is to show workers both in the public and private sector that, this government is labour-friendly and we want them to be in the decent work world.”

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