N30,000 Minimum Wage - Uncertainty Without End

N30,000 Minimum Wage - Uncertainty Without End

By Victor Ahiuma-Young and Johnbosco AgbakwuruWhen the Tripartite Com-mittee on the new minimum wage submitted its report to President Muhammadu Buhari on November 5, 2018, workers were full of expectations.

In fact, some had hoped to use the new minimum wage to celebrate the 2018 yuletide season following the National Assembly assurance of an accelerated process once it received the draft bill.

Recall that the Tripartite Committee had revealed that it included an executive draft bill in the report submitted to the President.

The Ama Pepple-led committee had in the report recommended new minimum wage of N30,000, which organised labour described as a product of compromise.

It will be noted that at one of the committee meetings, the Federal Government proposed N24,500, while the Nigeria Governors' Forum, NGF, on the eve of the submission of the committee's report proposed N22,500 after the committee had agreed on N30,000.

However, two months after the submission of the Tripartite Committee report, there is no sign if or when the new minimum wage will become a reality.

More worrisome is what appears to be government's delay tactics and organised labour intentionally or unwittingly aiding government.

An indication that the government is not ready to fast- track the process came after organised labour issued a December 31, 2018, to the government to either transmit a bill to the National Assembly or risk industrial unrest afterwards.

Prior to the ultimatum, leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, had on December 17, 2018, put the government on notice of a nationwide mobilisation and sensitisation protest slated for January 8, 2019.

In its response, the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, fixed a conciliatory meeting with the leaders of organised Labour on January 4, 2019.

While leaders of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, honoured the invitation, leaders of the United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, stayed away, claiming that the three labour centers had on December 20, 2018 met in Lagos and resolved that they would not attend any further meeting on the minimum wage with the government.

As explained by Ngige, the meeting was aimed at pacifying labour to shelve the proposed nationwide protest scheduled for Tuesday, January 8, over government's failure to transmit the New National Minimum Wage bill to the National Assembly.

At the meeting, the leadership of labour had impressed it on government to forward executive bill on the N30,000 minimum wage as agreed by the Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee to the National Assembly within one week.

But the government delegation asked for four weeks to enable it finish its consultations and forward the bill to the National Assembly.

Speaking after the January 7 meeting, Ngige informed that the Tripartite Committee's recommendations would also be transmitted to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, National Economic Council, NEC, and Council of State which comprises former Presidents and Heads of State for final ratification, and subsequently send to the National Assembly for enactment into law.

Ngige said: "We have made progress and tomorrow (Tuesday), we will know the definite date when the bill will be transmitted to the National Assembly.

It has been difficult to arrive at a date because there are processes to follow on the bill.

We have to go to the FEC with a council memo on the bill.

After that, we will go to the NEC and the Council of State.