Minimum Wage Talks: Labour gets restive as FG plays waiting game

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For the second day running after Monday’s nationwide strike, the Federal Government negotiating team yesterday failed to make a fresh offer to the Technical Committee on the New National Minimum Wage, NNMW, as the five-day deadline to end negotiation draw nearer.

This is even as Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, George Akume, yesterday said Labour committed treason by shutting down the national grid during the nationwide strike that was suspended on Tuesday.

The delay by the Federal Government to present a new offer beyond the N60,000, it offered last week, Vanguard gathered, is causing restiveness within the labour movement.

Recall that organised labour, under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC’s counterpart, had on Tuesday, while announcing the suspension of the nationwide indefinite, said: “The indefinite nationwide strike is, therefore, relaxed for one week from today (Tuesday) to allow the Federal Government commit to a concrete and acceptable national minimum wage.”
However, two days after, the government team is yet to make a fresh offer.

‘Dashed expectations’

Expectations were high that the government would present an offer above the initial N60,000 yesterday after the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, and the Minister of Budget, Atiku Bagudu earlier in the day presented a template to President Bola Tinubu as he earlier directed.

The two ministers said yesterday “There is no cause for alarm” after meeting with President Tinubu at the presidential Villa, Abuja.

Although Edun did not explain the agenda of the meeting with the President, it may be in connection with the marching orders given to him by the President on Tuesday to come up with figures to be presented to organized labour.

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It was expected that the government team would unveil the new offer at the tripartite committee meeting which started about 5 pm yesterday but that was not to be.

A source privy to the meeting told Vanguard that the government team requested that there were things they had wanted to discuss, for which a technical committee was set up.

“The government team did not present any new offer. They requested that there were things to discuss and a technical committee was set up.

“I suspect that maybe the President is still going through the figures presented to him by the Minister of Finance. Maybe, the President may present his decision to the minister before our meeting tomorrow (today),’’ the source said.

A labour leader, who spoke to Vanguard on the development, expressed misgivings over the delay on the part of the government.

He said: “We do not want to believe that the government is playing games with us. We all agreed with the government on Monday that the government was going to make new offer and we have to round off this issue in five days starting from Tuesday.

‘’We have wasted two precious days without anything. I hope we will not go through the road we just passed through on Monday.”

Labour committed treason by shutting down the national grid — SGF

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, has said labour committed treason by shutting down the national grid during the nationwide strike.

Akume, who stated this at a meeting with the national executive council, NEC, of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Abuja yesterday, said: “Nowhere in the world has labour ever tampered with the national grid. It is treason! A treasonable felony is economic sabotage; you don’t do that.
“We are trying to rebuild the economy. The president is picking it up, and they want to destroy it. Of what use is that to all of us? That is not the way.”

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Speaking on efforts of the government to ease economic hardship in the country, the SGF assured that compressed natural gas, CNG, buses, rice, and other essentials would soon be available to Nigerians to ease the hardship.

“It is not that we are not working. We are working, and that is why we implemented the N35,000 wage, which is more than the minimum wage.

“There are buses ready to be distributed, and soon, rice and other essentials will be available.”
Akume said the church must collaborate with the government in the provision of infrastructure for the citizens.

“The church must collaborate with the government in providing facilities for people, whether it is in education, health, or agriculture.

“We don’t separate; we combine. There is a symbiotic relationship that can never be destroyed,’’ he said.


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