The minister of labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has described as legitimate the call by labour for a review of the national minimum wage and said the federal government is carefully studying it in order to give an appropriate response.
The minister made the disclosure while receiving the executive members of the Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa (OTUWA) yesterday in Abuja.
Ngige said: “The other day, labour requested increased wages for workers and they have only done what they are supposed to do. Therefore, nobody will quarrel with them. At the appropriate time, we shall all sit down because what the labour is asking is for the re-negotiation of an existing Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA). And every CBA-based agreement is subject to re-negotiation at any given time that any of the partners requests it,” he said
Ngige debunked the notion that whenever labour makes such a demand, it means that the workforce is at loggerheads with the government.
“It is wrong for people to think that whenever the labour makes such a demand, the nation is boiling. The labour in Nigeria has for the first time met a labour-friendly government under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The government has put machinery in motion as we speak because I have got a letter as the Minister of Labour and Employment for my advice. We shall advise the government the way such a tripartite negotiation will be handled so that everybody will be satisfied without any industrial unrest.
“Government in this sense includes also the state and local governments whom such wages will be binding on. When government takes a decision, we will now move to another stage in the process of re-negotiating the CBA,” he said.
He further stated that the change mantra of the Buhari administration is geared towards changing the way things are done for the better.
“We are in an era where due process supersedes every other. People can only perform their roles and give way for other people to also perform theirs,” he said, adding that labour is part of the tripartite arrangement of the International Labour Organisation structure which Nigeria is signatory to.
He further commended OTUWA for fulfilling its roles as envisioned by the ILO.
Earlier in his address, OTUWA president, Comrade Mademba Sock, said that three-decade-old organisation in 2015 took far-reaching decisions to revive and re-position OTUWA. He said the decision to re-locate its headquarters from Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire, to Abuja was to enhance its operations since the headquarters of ECOWAS is in Abuja.