Government sets up 16-man panel on new minimum wage

Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige.

Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige.

The Federal Government has set in motion deliberations on a new national minimum wage proposal raised by the two leading workers unions in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) with the inauguration of a 16-man technical committee to chart the way forward.

The deliberations, which began in Abuja yesterday following the inauguration of the committee by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Lawal, is chaired by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who said they had already met and outlined some details and their terms of reference.

Members of the committee include Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu; Minister of Budget and Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi; Chairman of National Salaries and Wages Commission, R.O. Egbule and the representative of the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.

Representatives from NLC include Peter Adeyemi, Amaechi Asugwuni, Ibrahim Khaleel, Igwe Achese and Abdullahi Sale while TUC has Augustine Etafo, Alade Bashir Lawal and Abdullahi Sale as representatives.

Basically, the terms of reference, according to Ngige, include looking into organised labour’s grievances arising from the increase in the pump price of Prime Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol, as well as examine other consequential matters thereon.

It would be recalled that the labour unions had submitted a proposal to the government demanding for a N56,000 minimum wage, which accordingly, is expected to go through a tripartite arrangement to enable a harmonised figure that would be practical.

Labour had placed some demands before government before embarking on a strike action that was largely unsuccessful.Some of the demands were met, such as the appointment of Mohammed Buba as the Chairman of Board of Petroleum Products ‎Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

The unions had also faulted the N500 billion palliative set aside by government in the 2016 budget without taking into cognisance the interest of workers and labour leaders in particular and demanded that the inclusion of leaders of the two frontline unions would make the palliative policy work better.

Terms of reference for the committee include looking into a frame-work of a national committee that will discuss the issue of the minimum wage, look into the suggestions of all parties, which include government and the organised labour, centres on the suggestion of how they can give amelioration to workers and Nigerians in general to cushion the effect of price hike as a result of increase in fuel pump price.

Secondly, the N500 billion provided in the 2016 budget by government for social security would also form part of the resources that would be used in the effort to provide palliatives to cushion the effect of the present situation.

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