The expectations of workers in the country getting a new national minimum wage by the end of September 2018 may not materialize after all as the government said on Tuesday that the September date was just a date to conclude negotiation on the issue of minimum wage.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige told newsmen at his residence in Abuja that the committee on the new national minimum wage expects to conclude its work by the end of September and present its report to the government for deliberation and approval before an executive bill is sent to the National Assembly on the issue.
He said however that the issue of capacity to pay is also paramount in the deliberations on the minimum wage, pointing out that it was to get the input of all those concerned including state governments and the organised private sector that the committee embarked on zonal public hearing across the country.
The Minister said further that in the course of the zonal public hearings, many state governments made different submissions ranging from N22, 000 monthly to N58, 000, adding that the governors were also of the believe that for the new minimum wage to become effective, the current revenue allocation formula will have to be reviewed in favour of the states and local governments.
He said further that some other states are also of the view that the minimum wage should be maintained at the current N18, 000 in view of the inability of some states to pay the current wages.
Ngige said when the minimum wage committee concludes its report, it will be submitted to the National Council of State and the Federal Executive Council for approval before a bill is sent to the National Assembly to legalize the work of the committee.
He said even though it was not an easy task, the committee was making progress in its assigned responsibility, pointing out that it was in other to carry everybody, including the states and private sector along that six governors were elected to be members of the committee as well as representatives of the organised private sector.
On the threat non-teaching staff of universities to resume their suspended strike as a result of government failure to honour the terms of their agreement, the Minister said government was sourcing the N6 billion needed to pay them their earned allowances as contained in the agreement.
He said his experience as Minister of Labour said him that majority of about 95 percent of agreement currently being paraded by trade unions in the country were signed before the Buhari government came into office in 2015,adding that most of such agreements had no timeline for implementation.
He also said many of the agreement signed by the last government were not implementable because of the amount involved, adding that the principles of the International, Labour Organisation allowed employers to renegotiate agreements which they feel they cannot implement.
He said further that what is important in all collective bargaining agreement is the ability to pay what is being demanded and what is agreed upon.
He appealed to striking health workers to return to work while negotiations continue on their demands, pointing out that the delay in the implementation of their signed agreement was as a result of failure of the National Salaries, Wages and Income Commission to defend the two different figure presented to a government high powered committee.
He said the committee has directed the commission and the Federal Ministry of Health to go back and recompile the figures for onward submission to the committee for deliberation.
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