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NLC, Ngige in war of words as pensioners seek 33% increment

Just as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has alleged that the Federal Government is frustrating takeoff of the new minimum wage, they are equally accusing the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige for being involved in the programmed delays.

This is as the President of Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Dr Abel Afolayan, has urged the Federal Government to implement the 33 per cent increment on pension.

President of NLC, Wabba Ayuba had accused the Federal Government of deliberately foot-dragging on the convocation of a committee for the negotiation of a new minimum wage. According to him, rising inflation and devaluation of the Naira lead to the need for a fresh wage for Nigerian workers, adding that it has been long overdue going by understanding during the last review.

Ayuba said “… As you must have had we have also submitted a request for an upward review of the National Minimum Wage which was signed into law in 2011 by President Jonathan, to the present administration, Despite the fact that the minimum wage was due for renegotiation after five years, the current administration is dragging its feet in constituting a tripartite committee as is the practice to negotiate a new minimum wage. Against the background of the harsh economic times and the impact on the working people, we cannot wait indefinitely for government to respond at its own time.

He queried the reason behind the observed delay in the constitution of the review committee by the Minister, arguing that in the last 12 or more months, the inflationary trend in the economy has gone over the roof, and the salaried and the teeming millions of the unemployed, are facing very difficult times.

“Amidst these difficulties we have contended with a number of state governments that have misplaced priorities and have regularly refused to pay workers in the State pay roll, their salaries as at when due. Similarly pension, of retried public servants have gone for several months, and in some cases, years un-paid. We have over the last 15 months fought these State governments to pay up these outstanding wages and pension liabilities they owe workers. We will continue to do this till all salaries and pensions across the country are fully paid up.”

However, in a sharp reaction, Dr Ngige said the allegation of the non-composition of the tripartite committee on the minimum wage by both NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) is unfounded.

He said “the statement is false and misleading as the Federal Government has demonstrated its commitment to improving the welfare of the Nigerian workforce by holding series of meetings with stakeholders on the subject matter, while the final meeting of the technical committee on new minimum wage was slated for 23rd February, 2017 but could not hold as scheduled, as both the Nigerian Labour Congress and its Trade Union Congress counterpart requested for a postponement of the meeting, in order to attend the delegate conference of National Union of Civil Engineering Construction/ Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW), at Asaba Delta State.”

Ngige, in a statement signed by Deputy Director, Press, Samuel Olowookere, said a meeting of the technical committee on minimum wage is scheduled for Tuesday 14th March 2017 (today) at 2pm at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).

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