The Federal Government in a Press Conference held on Thursday in Abuja, made a statement through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, that it would in no distant time come up with a definite figure on the new minimum wage, such that will be payable by both the governments and the private sector.
He also disclosed that the figure may not be above N25,000. It said the benchmark was being considered so as not to cause unemployment, adding that if it goes beyond that, many workers in the private sector may lose their job, Vanguard reports.
Ngige expressed displeasure over the two-week ultimatum given to the Federal Government by Labour Union . The minister said the ultimatum was aimed at blackmailing the Federal Government.
He said he and Chairman of the committee on the new minimum wage and former head of service of the Federation , Amma Pepple, would brief President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, September 14, on the progress so far made by the committee.
According to the Minister , work of the committee, including a draft bill to be sent to President Buhari and subsequently to the National Assembly and all other work of the committee, are ready except the issue of a particular figure to be agreed upon.
He said the new Minimum wage will consider the economic situation in the country and the ability of State Governors to pay the agreed figure.
According to him, organised labour made a presentation of N56,000 as its demand at first, but withdrew it and made another presentation of N65,000. The organised private sector on its own part made a presentation of N42,000 and later withdraw it for lower presentation of N25,000.
He said: “If we arrive at a figure that is not implementable, what then is the essence of negotiation. We don’t want people to renege on the agreement when we finally come up with something. That is why the President insisted that the Governors must be part of the process. They had complained that they were not part of the last process.”
“We have the interest of workers at heart, we have not retrenched anybody, there is no embargo on employment, there is no embargo on promotions, we are paying backlog of promotional arrears, we are backing backlog of transfers and repatriation and the rest of them and we are giving them houses under FISH and the rest of them.
“So this government is a labour-friendly government and we must put smiles on their faces before the next elections; we are labour activists, we don’t want to turn our backs on them.’’
The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, concluded that the Federal Government would announce the new minimum wage before the end of the third quarter, which is September.
He added : “Next week we have an economic management team meeting on Tuesday, specially dedicated to the issue of national minimum wage to be chaired by the Vice President.