Business Hilights
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Hold Ngige, Keyamo responsible if economy plunges back to recession—Expert

Strong indication emerged Monday at the Ministry of Labour and Productivity that upon the closeness of impending nationwide strike already announced by the labour unions, the Federal Government is yet to reconstitute a negotiating team that will meet with workers on the hot issue of consequential adjustments rising from new minimum wage.

In a telephone interview with a former labour leader in Lagos, he observed that “Something in my mind is letting me know that the Federal Government may not have known the full weight of the new minimum wage it signed into law.”

“The dilly-dallying we are seeing since the new wage was signed into law goes to show that it was for political purpose and not for real implementation. Otherwise, there is no reason why, the Federal Government would be playing hide and seek on an issue every worker had computed his take home in the name of constituting or not constituting negotiating team.

“Nigerian labour-force has grown beyond this level of official politics from a government that is fighting corruption and working on the economy.

The former labour official, who pleaded anonymity therefore called on the government to avoid plunging the economy back to recession.

Recall that at the breakdown of last joint meeting which saw the dissolution of government’s team, both the TUC and NLC, in unison, announced kick off of nationwide strike from Wednesday, October 16 should no deal is reached on or before the date.

Nationwide reports by Business Hilights Correspondents on the marking of 2017 May Day by Nigerian workers showed anger and frustration and apparent loss of confidence on government on its treatment of workers.
The height of the matter was when workers walked out on the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chirs Ngige when he mounted the podium to address workers, yesterday, May 1, 2017.
The workers unions at the end of the day announced a new ultimatum to the federal government come up with a workable new minimum wage that will be acceptable by Nigerian workers.

Whereas many analysts had expected a serious turnaround in the ministry following the recent redeployment of former Minister of State for Niger Delta, My Festus Keyamo to the minister on same capacity, checks at the ministry Monday revealed that the Federal Government is yet to constitute a team to negotiate with the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council.

Though efforts to find out why there had been total silence and undue delay contrary to public expectations on the matter, a source in the ministry confided in Business Hilights that “The major problem is funding to pay workers if the demand of labour is accepted.”

On if the delay in constituting government team stemmed from the removal of former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita and replacement by Dr Yemi Esan, the source declined comments.

Business Hilights recalls that during a visit by labour leaders in Abuja to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige on September 28, he assured that a new government team would replace the old one headed by the former Head of the Service, but has not been done.

Whereas he noted that former government team made appreciable progress, Ngige promised that the new team would reach an agreement with labour over the implementation of the new minimum wage.

Industry analysts say if the new government team is not set up before the end of this week, there is no guarantee that nationwide strike by labour unions will not commence from Wednesday next week as earlier announced.

They came to this conclusion based on the fact government’s body language clearly suggests readiness for an avoidable nationwide strike after all.