Minimum Wage: NLC Rejects FG’s Composition of Panel

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Abuja
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected Federal Government's composition of the panel to handle the negotiation of a new national minimum wage for workers.

In the panel, the Federal Government has 16 representatives, while Labour and the employers have eight representatives each.

However, the NLC has commended the government for coming up with peace overtures to the militants in the Niger Delta in form of amnesty to those who are willing to surrender.

NLC General Secretary, Mr. John Odah, who spoke to THISDAY shortly after delivering a lecture to the course participants of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at Kuru, in Jos, said NLC had written the authorities to protest the matter and was awaiting a reply.

Odah said the composition did not conform to normal practice and is also not in keeping with the convention of the International Labour Office (ILO) on tripartite consultations.

“Government has come with the idea of doubling the number of its representatives to that of the workers and employers. We have written back to government to say that this has not been the practice and that we need to stick to the practice that has served us well in the past.

We think this is not acceptable. It is not the practice. We have made references to some International Labour Organisation's conventions especially the one tripartite consultation which did not support such kind of representation,” he said.

The General Secretary noted that though some measures of progress might be said to have been recorded following the agreement to set up the negotiating committee, there is need to re-order the composition in the interest fairness and equity.

“One clear area where we can say that some measure of progress has been made is on the issue of having a tripartite committee to discuss and negotiate the new minimum wage. We have now been asked to submit the names of labour representatives on the panel to form our negotiating team and we have done that.

“We are going to hold a National Executive Council meeting of the NLC by middle of next month in Abakiliki in Ebonyi State and the NEC is expected to give a direction as to the next line of action we will take,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NLC has expressed support for the amnesty granted the Niger Delta militants by the Federal Government.

In a statement yesterday, Odah said the NLC was particularly happy that the amnesty was all encompassing, including the grant of pardon to all persons under prosecution for alleged offences associated with the armed struggle in the region.

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