By Uche Amunike
The Federal Government has agreed to increase the Nigerian minimum wage in order to ensure that it meets up with the present realities in the economy of the country.
This was announced by the Honorable Minister of Labour and Employment , Senator Chris Ngige, during the public presentation of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) of 40 Publication titled ‘Contemporary History of Working Class Struggles’, Monday in Abuja.
Ngige stated that the federal government was clearly aware that the Nigeria Minimum Wage of N30,000 had depreciated and assured that an adjustment was soon going to be made to reflect what was going on in the global space.
Hear him: ‘The inflation is worldwide, we shall adjust the minimum wage in conformity with what is happening now. The 2019 Minimum Wage Act has a new clause for a review. The adjustment has started with the Academic Staff Union of University because the stage they are with their primary employers, Ministry of Education, is a collective bargaining agreement negotiations.’
‘Under the principles of offer and acceptance, which is that of collective bargaining, ASUU can look at the offer they gave us and make a counter offer, but they have not done that. If they do that, we are bound to look at their offer. These are the ingredients of collective negotiations.’
He further stated: ‘If you don’t work, you won’t eat’, adding that labour provided the riches of any nation as well as the prosperity of every family.’
He however advised the executive members of affiliate unions of the NLC to get to study and understand the Nigerian Labour Laws, adding that the current Nigerian minimum wage of N30,000 will not be able to pay transport fares of workers for a month, in the present economic reality of the country.
He further stated: ‘Yes the inflation has increased worldwide and it is not confined to Nigeria, that is why in many jurisdictions, it is an adjustment of wages right now.’
‘We as the Nigerian government shall adjust in confirmative with what is happening in wages.’
‘More importantly, the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act, right now has a clause for the review, which we started then, I do not know whether it is due next year or 2024.’
‘But before then, the adjustment of wages will reflect what is happening in the economy, just as the government has started the adjustment with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).’
Ngige further explained that the Buhari-led government never took ASUU to court because of their prolonged strike, like some people claimed. Rather, he did the right thing as the Minister of Labour by referring the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria after seven months of protracted dialogues and negotiations with the union, which eventually failed.
According to him, ASUU embarked on their strike at the stage of collecting bargaining negotiation with their employers, the Federal Ministry of Education, which showed that they lacked the qualities of Labour unionism and lacked knowledge of negotiation because no negotiation is forced.