Saturday, 18 March 2017
FG to set up 29-man minimum wage committee
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari will soon approve the setting up of a 29-man committee to engage organised labour in negotiating a new national minimum wage for workers in the country.
The minister also hinted that the report of the National Minimum Wage Review Committee soon to be set up by the President will be subjected to scrutiny by the National Assembly before it is implemented by government.
Organised Labour, made up of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has submitted a N56,000 new national minimum wage request to the government.
The minister, who spoke with newsmen in his office after a meeting of the technical committee, said the Minimum Wage Review Committee was yet to be set up, adding that the technical committee set up in June 2016 to work out modalities for the review and palliatives would soon submit its report to the main committee.
The Minister said in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, it was within the ambit of the National Assembly to amend the minimum wage act since all national minimum wage issues are on the exclusive legislative list.
He said: “When the national minimum wage committee finishes its work, it will go to the National Sssembly because all national minimum wage issues are issues that are on the exclusive list.
“So it is within the ambits of the National Assembly in accordance with the 1999 constitution as amended.”
According to him, the main committee made up of eight cabinet ministers and the Secretary to Government of the Federation as well as labour leaders will adopt or review the report before submitting it to President Muhammadu Buhari who will in turn approve the composition of the national minimum wage committee.
He said for the first time in the history of minimum wage negotiation in the country, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum will be represented by three of their colleagues while the private sector employers will also be represented.
He said that the meeting held on Tuesday between the government and Labour was to conclude and finalize the report of the technical committee, saying “the meeting was the final conclusion meeting of the Federal Government and Labour technical committee on the issue of the review of minimum wage and the prescription of the palliatives.
“This was following the government deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry which culminated in the increase in pump price of premium motor spirit otherwise called petrol from N87 to a band of N135 to N145. This committee was agreed to by all parties and a 16-man technical committee was set up.
“The committee is supposed to put up a framework for the composition, functions and establishment of a minimum wage tripartite committee to review the hitherto existing 2011 minimum wage as well as prescribe to government the areas of palliatives that will enable the economy cushion the effect of the increase in the pump price of petrol.
“The committee has finished its work and we held a conclusion meeting to finalise our report and this we successful did.
“This committee will now take this technical report and hand over to the main committee of Labour and government.”
He disclosed that the main committee that will receive the report of the technical committee has about eight ministers and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation representing the government, while Labour will be represented by the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and other interest unions.
According to him, the main committee will receive the report of the technical committee at a date to be agreed to by all parties, saying “It may be sometimes next week if everything goes normal, and we have started consulting on the day.
He said further: “Once they receive the report, the committee will adopt the technical report or make some amendments and then submit it to Mr President, and based on the report, the President will constitute a national minimum wage tripartite committee.
“That means you will have government on one hand, employers (NECA) comprising of Manufactures Association of Nigeria, Chambers of Commerce, as well as federation of trade unions. They will all have to nominate their members to represent them in that committee on national minimum wage review. State governors will also be represented.”
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