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Labour Knocks Ngige, Blows Hot On Ultimatum

By Ajibola Abayomi,

September 19, 2018.

NLC during a recent rally

The organised labour accuses labour minister, Chris Ngige, of playing out a script concerning the new minimum wage for workers.

President of the United Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, claims workers in the country are currently agitated over what happens to the minimum wage.

The NLC, TUC and the ULC is warning that they cannot guarantee industrial peace at the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum Nigeria’s organised labour has declared that the 14-day ultimatum it gave the federal government recently over issues with the implementation of the minimum wage of workers will not be extended or reversed.

The Punch reports that the organised labour made this stand known in reaction to a demand by the labour minister, Chris Ngige, that the new minimum wage committee adjourn indefinitely to enable him to make further consultation with the government.

The report quoted the president of the United Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, as saying: “We cannot and we will not reverse ourselves on the actions we have taken so far to ensure that the rights of Nigerian workers are protected. Some have asked us to extend the date, but such will not happen.

“This new antic certainly is not acceptable to Nigerian workers who have been expecting a new national minimum wage since 2016, but, who, out of uncommon sacrifice and patriotism, hearkened to government’s appeal and the process was delayed.

“In the course of the work of the committee (on new minimum wage), members had ample time to consult. In any case, the committee was satisfied that it received memoranda and inputs from 21 state governments, specialised agencies of the federal government, the organised private sector, organised labour and the general public.

“We even recall that Ngige himself had assured workers during the 40th anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Labour Congress in February this year that workers should expect a new national minimum wage in September this year. “We wonder what has gone amiss between February 28, and now. On the other hand, do we assume that the minister is acting a script?”

“The report further quoted Ajaero as saying: “In the light of this, his pronouncement is capable of rubbishing the work of the committee as well as raising serious concerns about the readiness of the government to accede to the putting together of a new national minimum wage.

“Beyond this, the minister’s pronouncement has generated considerable tension among workers and provoked sharp reactions from the unions, which justifiably argue that the government is only out to waste the time of workers and is not prepared to pay a new national minimum wage.

“The report also quoted joint statement from the ULC, NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as saying: “In view of the foregoing, we demand that government does all that is necessary to ensure that the tripartite committee is allowed to conclude its work within 14 days.

“We will want to use this opportunity to let the government and the whole world know that in the event that this demand is not met, we will not guarantee continued industrial peace and harmony.”

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