The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has proposed that the federal government should grant a 200 per cent Wage Award to workers as part of measures to cushion the effect of the withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products.
While speaking on a programme monitored on3 Channels Television on Monday night, the president of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, said the demand for the wage award became necessary following economic difficulties imposed on the worker by the over 200 per cent increase in the pump price of fuel in the country.
Regarding the wage award, Ajaero said both labour and federal government were yet to meet on the table to discuss the percentage that would be granted.
He said what the NLC was seeking was for the government to conclude the issue of wage award before delving into that of minimum wage.
He said considering the percentage of the hike in the pump price of fuel, labour would be asking for “almost 200 percent in wage award.”
He added that rather than look at the matter in a straight percentage, NLC would want the government to identify things that it could take along with it holistically.
“We would have addressed the issue of CNG for instance and where people pay N500 per litre of fuel, maybe they will be paying less than that on CNG,” he said.
On whether the NLC has agreed to give more time for the government to address its demands, Ajaero said: “We agreed that the federal government has had more than enough time for the past four months, even if there is commitment and genuineness of purpose that between now and next few days issues will be resolved and we hope that the minister will work with us within the next few days to make sure we resolve the matter.”
Ajaero was asked to confirm if the meeting would continue on Tuesday, and he said: “if they invite us to a meeting tomorrow, we will accept it.”
However, Ajaero said that the issues were beyond the Minister of Labour except for one or two issues that came up after the withdrawal of subsidy.
He said, “You will discover that there is already a Presidential Committee that is kind of Inter- Ministerial and was discussing the issue of CNG gas, that the minister can’t work on it, also the issue refineries, wage award and even Cash Transfer.
“All these issues are beyond the Ministry, especially when discussions are ongoing on these issues.”
He said the minister was competent enough to mediate on issues between Labour and the Federal government as a consolidator.
“Apparently that was the premise under which the minister invited us to see whether he can apprehend the issue of industrial crisis between Labour and the federal government,” he said.
Ajaero, also responded to a question on why the TUC was holding a separate meeting with the government, saying both NLC and TUC are independent labour centres.
He said the NLC and TUC always try to carry each other along, but if the two couldn’t agree on issues, they are free to meet separately with the government to table their matters.
According to him, wage award is different from minimum wage, adding that going by the law, minimum wage would be due for renegotiation by next year when the federal government and states would be involved.
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
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