The Federal Government has selected January 23 to transmit the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly for onward consideration and approval.
Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Productivity, announced this after a meeting with the leadership of organised labour: the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), in Abuja on Tuesday.
The agreement was reached on the same organised labour protested nationwide over the perceived slow implementation of the recommendations of the tripartite committee to increase the wage from its present N18,000 to N30,000.
All the parties, it was learnt, signed a pact to agree on the date, with other resolutions reached but not made public to journalists.
Ngige promised the labour leaders that the government would hold a meeting next week, as well as present the recommendations of the tripartite committee to the State Security Council in order to speed up the process.
He said the bill would be presented to the federal lawmakers upon their resumption from their end-of-the-year break.
He also appealed to the labour unions to suspend their protests and allow the entire process play out smoothly.
“As for the transmission of the executive bill to the National Assembly, the government will religiously implement all the processes that will enable us to transmit this bill within the stipulated time.
“We have a target time of January 23, 2019 and we hope that all things being equal, government will be able to do so. We will take all statutory meetings of the Federal Executive Council, National Economic Council and the National Council of State meetings to enable us to transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage. I thank the labour unions for their understanding and appeal to them that the threats should come down. Protests are no longer necessary,” he said.
On his part, Ayubba Wabba, NLC President, said Nigerian workers had waited for two years before their agitations forced government to consider an increase in their minimum wage.
He also lamented the perceived slow process of the minimum wage’s approval and transmission of a bill to the National Assembly by the federal government, noting that it was over two months since the tripartite committee submitted its report.
He said, “We have finally been able to reach a clear understanding on the processes and timeline for this bill to be transmitted. We are committed to the process and hope that the timeline will be respected. We will put this across to our organs and give them all the details contained in the Memorandum of Understanding.
“You will recall that our demand is for the bill to be transmitted to the National Assembly. We want a firm commitment so that we don’t come round a cycle. We want the agreement to be documented and signed by government’s representatives. With that, we can follow up on the process.
“This thing has been on the table for more than two years and having submitted the report, we expect that the bill should have been submitted. The National Assembly will be back on January 16 from their recess so on or before January 23, the bill must have been transmitted.
“We know that the National Assembly members are desirous of making sure that Nigerian workers have decent wage, they will also be able to do the needful. We will shift our lobby to the National Assembly because once the bill is enacted; the money will be in the pocket of workers.
“Issues of industrial relations are always addressed at the negotiation table. We have been diligent in the whole process and workers have been patient, clearly we have carried them along, that is why whenever we want them to be around, they are always around. We are tired of stories and that is why we insisted on a timeline.”
He thanked the federal government for the step taken but warned that the situation has not been resolved until the bill is approved and the workers receive their new minimum wage of N30,oo0.
“For us, it is a win-win situation but until the money is in our pocket, that is when we can talk of success. It is still work in progress and there are many more battles to fight. But once it is at the National Assembly, the half of the work is done. The next level is the implementation in the public and private sectors. But we are optimistic with the success of the bill at the National Assembly,” he said.