Monday, 4 July 2016

NLC counters media reports on creation of new minimum wage committee


The Nigeria Labour Congress NLC has described as false, misleading and mischievous, a news item credited to the news Agency of Nigeria NAN which suggested that the Committee on the new National Minimum Wage had started meeting.
A statement signed by the President of NLC Ayuba Wabba and made available to nedu Echianu's Blog Vision FM stated that no such committee has been set up and therefore it is impossible that a non-existing committee would have met to deliberate on new wages for Nigerian workers.


According to the statement, government agreed to set up two committees as a result of the major protest action by Labour following the increase in the pump price of petroleum products from N86:50 to N145.

It said the committees are Palliatives Committee and National Minimum Wage Committee which were set up to make recommendations to government on how to cushion the harsh effects brought on the people by the sharp increase in the pump price of petroleum products.

The statement thereby clarified that there is a difference between the Palliatives Committee and the National Minimum Wage Committee.


Below is a full text of the statement:
4th July, 2016

A MISLEADING STORY

The story credited  to  the News Agency of Nigeria by the Daily Trust (Sunday) of  July 3, 2016 that the Committee on the  new National Minimum Wage had started meeting is not only false and  misleading, it is mischievous.

To the best of our knowledge, government is yet to constitute the committee on the new National Minimum Wage.

How could a nonexistent committee then have met?

In light of the sensitive nature of the subject matter, this story is not only  alarmist, it   constitutes an unnecessary overheating  of the polity.

To the best of our knowledge, government accepted to set up two committees as a result of the major protest  action by Labour following the increase in the pump price of petroleum products from N86:50 to N145.

These committees are Palliatives Committee and National Minimum Wage Committee. Broadly-speaking, they are to make recommendations to government on how to cushion the harsh effects brought on the people by the sharp increase in the pump price of petroleum products as well as address other issues connected with the workings of the  institutions in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, especially the PPPRA.

Similarly, the  Committees are to make recommendations on other challenges militating against the regular supply of petroleum products.

The acceptance of government to set up these committees was part of the process of addressing the concerns of labour.

On June 2nd, 2016,  the Committee on Palliatives was inaugurated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

An inaugural meeting chaired by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige  held immediately thereafter during which it was  agreed that a tripartite committee (comprising representatives of  Government, Employers and Labour) on a new National Minimum Wage be set up in line with extant law and procedure.

Organised Labour had taken the position that in order to deepen its presentation, it would consult widely with its affiliate unions.

Although  the frame work or the outline of  the work of the  Committee and its membership were discussed, the Committee was not constituted.

Part of the explanation for this was that the annual  International Labour Conference in Geneva to which the stake holders in Labour were invited was already in progress and members had to travel to Geneva.

We have no doubt that with the stakeholders back from Geneva, 
the committee will be constituted in line with established law, convention and practice.

From this account, it is evident that there is a difference between the Palliatives Committee and the National Minimum Wage Committee.

We find it necessary to advise that NAN  verify their stories from appropriate sources like the Nigeria Labour Congress before rushing to the press.

Even before the fall-out from the increase in the pump price of  petroleum products, the Nigeria Labour Congress with Trade Union Congress had formally submitted a proposal to government for a new minimum wage.

This action was informed by the fact that a new minimum wage was legally due after five years, and couple with this, inflation and major devaluations of the Naira had rendered the N18,000 minimum wage unrealistic.

Without the slightest intention to pre-empt the direction of discussion,  realistic minimum wage at the moment will have to take on board the recent complications created by the N145 pump price of petroleum product and the  floatation of the Naira as an economic policy and their aftermath.

In a few words, the earlier  figure by NLC and TUC may have been rendered inappropriate by these recent developments.


We have gone to this length to show how sensitive this subject matter is and why no one should test  waters with speculations or outright lies.







Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni.

President.

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