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MINIMUM WAGE: FG OFFERS LABOUR NEW DEAL

By NBF News
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The Federal Government yesterday offered the organized labour a new deal as negotiations on the N18, 000 national minimum wage continued in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and with a promise to pay across board from August.

Briefing newsmen shortly after the meeting, that was attended by the SGF, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, Head of Service, Prof. Afolabi Oladapo, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, Chairman, Salaries and Wages Commission, Richard Egbule as well as the Special Advisers to the President, Reuben Abati and Oronto Douglas.

Chief Wogu, who announced that the implementation would commence August, said both team came to the final conclusion after an intense negotiation and assured that no one would be victimized by government over their role in the struggle of minimum wage issue.

However, the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Peter Esele, told newsmen that the offer presented to the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress,TUC would be deliberated by both the National Administrative Council and National Executive Councils, respectivley, after which both unions would make its position to government on whether or not it would accept the offer.

Daily Sun gathered that at the meeting that lasted for about five hours, the Federal Government had, while agreeing to implement the minimum wage across board, was said to have still maintained it could not meet the N54 billion being demanded by labour as total amount for the full implementation of the minimum wage annually.

The government, instead offered N11 billion, one billion higher than the N10 billion it offered during the negotiation on Sunday.

During the briefing by the labour minister, journalists observed that all was not well, a fact which was clearly displayed by the labour team. Sensing that journalists would want to know why members of the organized labour were wearing long faces after a meeting that was acclaimed to be very successful, the minister of labour, hurriedly announced that the media excuse the meeting for the parties to continue with their discussions.

The minister, who refused to take reporters questions during the briefing, said the 'Federal Government has agreed to implement the minimum wage across board and modalities are being worked out. The only thing that is remaining is the adjustment. The issue of the minimum wage has been sorted out and agreed upon andĀ  theĀ  modalities that would be worked out by the general committee of the National Executive Council of the NLC and TUC would be tabled before the National Executive Council of NLC and TUC.

'It is equally agreed that implementation of the payment of what has been concluded upon today, will begin August, 2011. And that equally, in the spirit of this negotiations, that whatever roles anybody played, especially from the TUC and NLC, nobody would be victimized by government and that is the conclusion and I think when they finish from the NEC and NAC, they will communicate to government on the outcome of such meeting,' he said.

Also speaking, the president of the NLC, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, noted that the issues of the national minimum wage had dragged on for this long because of the problem of relativity across board. He said that while the NLC and TUC, would continue to explore the principles of dialogue to get to the final conclusion of the minimum wage, the organized labour would be able to take a position on the matter at the moment.

On his part, the president of the UC, Peter Esele, said, 'I Think today we have a more conducive atmosphere and the presentation was made and we have an offer on the table, which will be considered by the National Administrative Council of the NLC and TUC and whatever come out of those meetings would also be communicated accordingly and hopefully we can have a closure on this.'