As organised labour prepares to go on strike over minimum wage, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has stated that the demand of the Nigerian Labour Congress would force the Federal Government to sack workers.
Ngige said the demand of the organised labour would cost the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari additional N580 million annually. According to Ngige, the amount is not sustainable as the “Government cannot afford that kind of money.”
Labour has urged the government to fully implement the new minimum wage or it will embark on a strike. The union also informed the government to review old laws and compel the private sector to as well implement the N30,000 new labour wage.
The Minister said President Buhari was more interested in the lowest cadre of workers, arguing that they were the ones in need of the new minimum wage of N30,000. Ngige asserted that if the government accepts the consequential adjustment demand of labour for salary increment from levels 1 to 17, the organised labour is indirectly asking government to sack workers.
“There is no problem with disagreement in the labour system, when can sometimes disagree to later agree, on the national minimum wage, it will translate to an additional N580 billion if government agrees to the consequential adjustment labour is proposing.
“Government cannot afford that kind of money now, besides the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is more interested in the lowest cadre of workers which are those on grade level 1 step 1 and level 6 step 1, these are the ones who the N30,000 will have greater impact on.
“Government has done their own homework and brought out what they can use to defend this consequential adjustment. Grade 1 to 6 does not have any problem, but 7 to 14 band and 15 to 17 band this is where we have the problem.
“Once you finish a minimum wage and go into consequential adjustment you are trying to reach a collective bargaining agreement and once you are trying to reach and once you are the principle of ability to pay comes in.
“So if you push the government to go and accede to an increment which its resources cannot accommodate, you are indirectly asking them to retrench workers so that the few that are remaining will get this big money.
“We don’t want that, from 2015 the president has made it clear that he is not out to inflict pains on Nigerians and that he does not want to create unemployment but even at that our increase in population is galloping and our resources are not consequentially increasing to meet up that is why we have a lot of unemployed youths on the street today.
“We need to arrive at an agreement as soon as possible so that we can use the 2019 budget allocation to defame this consequential adjustment because it will be bad if we are unable to do it and we finish this financial year by December because the budget circle is going to return to January/December 2020 so we have three months only before this recurrent funds as well are swept back into government treasury, that is the law.”
Note: Labour planned to embark on strike on October 16, 2019.