Representatives of the Federal Government on Monday met with the leadership of organized labour movement on the implementation of the new N30,000 minimum wage and the consequential adjustment of salaries for civil servants.
The meeting, which began shortly after the arrival of members of the union at the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja, came two days to the deadline issued by the labour leaders.
In his remarks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who presided over the meeting, described it as an information-sharing one that flows from the previous meeting between the government and the labour leaders.
The minister assured the union leaders that he would remain neutral in the whole negotiation.
He, however, appealed to members of the union to show some understanding.
Ngige announced that there would be another meeting with heads of government agencies and parastatals, where their books would be opened for scrutiny to see what amount can actually be paid to workers. The meeting, according to him, will hold on Tuesday.
Journalists were initially barred from covering the meeting which held behind closed doors but they were later granted access by the minister.
Implement Before Deadline
Almost six months since President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act, 2019, Nigerian workers have yet to feel its impact.
This is a result of the delay in the implementation of the law which pegs the minimum wage for workers in the country at N30,000.
While some states such as Kaduna and Ekiti have announced plans to commence payment of the new minimum wage, the Federal Government has held a series of meetings with members of the organized labour on the same issue.
On July 16, the Presidency said President Buhari has approved the immediate implementation of the new minimum wage for workers earning below N30,000.
It, however, said the commencement of the approved payment would be determined by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
Following a meeting between leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the government, the organized labour issued a two-week ultimatum for the government to meet its demands.
The union said it has demonstrated a great deal of restraint, consideration, and patience with the government but it offers were not encouraging.
It, therefore, warned that it cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if its demands were not met at the close of work on October 16.
The Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act signed by the President in mid-April makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay N30,000 to their workers.
This excludes persons who are employing less than 25 workers and those who work in a ship that sails out of the jurisdiction and other persons who are in other kinds of regulated employment which are accepted by the Act.
It also gives workers the right if compelled by any circumstance to accepting a salary that is less than N30,000 to sue their employer to recover the balance.