The Federal Government on Monday moved to forestall the proposed industrial action being planned by Organised Labour over the delay in the implementation of a new minimum wage.
It, through the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, chaired Economic Management Team (EMT), met with representatives of the 36 state governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), in Abuja.
But both parties were yet to agree on a common figure as the minimum wage.
The governors, according to their Chairman and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari, will today take a position on the minimum wage issue.
They are to critically analyse the memo from the Labour & Employment Minister Chris Ngige and finally take a common stand.
The workers’ umbrella – Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) – had earlier served a notice to begin an industrial action on November 6 to press home their demand.
Union leaders Ayuba Wabba (NLC) and Joe Ajaero (ULC) confirmed this development in a press statement.
They spoke of a plan to stage sensitisation/awareness rallies in city centres ahead of the job boycott on November 6, if the government refuses to meet their demand on the new minimum wage of N30, 000 for workers.
The N30, 000, according to labour, is a negotiated minimum wage from the initial N65,000 demand as the minimum monthly salary to the least paid worker.
The Federal and the state governments are not on the same page with organised labour on the minimum wage issue. The federal is offering to pay N24, 00. The states are insisting they can only pay N20, 000.
According to the NGF chair, many of the states struggle to meet their monthly obligation of N18, 000 to workers on their payrolls.
The unions explained that the proposed strike was informed by the Federal Government’s stance on the new minimum wage.
After the last Federal Executive Council (FEC), Ngige told reporters that the Federal government would only increase the minimum wage from N18, 000 to N24, 000.
The NGF has scheduled an emergency meeting for today to discuss the national minimum wage and come up with a position, its chairman said yesterday.
Yari spoke with on the matter after an expanded EMT meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday.
The organised labour has been at odds with the Federal Government over demands to increase the remunerations of public sector workers.
On October 24, the NLC issued another strike notice over a stalemate, arising from the Federal Government’s inability to come to terms with labour on the N30, 000 minimum wage demands.
A communique issued at the end of its emergency meeting and signed by Wabba and NLC General-Secretary Peter Ozo-Eson workers to commence an indefinite nationwide strike from November 6.
A warning strike called by the labour movement on September 26 was suspended on September 30.
The NGF argues that the resources available to the states cannot sustain the wage being demanded by the workers.
Yari said: “The position of the governors is not very clear to some of you. We are willing to pay any amount but the issue is the capacity to pay.”
Yesterday’s meeting with the EMT, he said, discussed the proposal made by the organised labour and the figure proposed by the Federal Government.
“The governors still haven’t come out with any figure.
“So, by tomorrow (Today), we are going to discuss with our governors on the bill by the Minister of Labour & Employment to the NGF Secretariat.