The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has disclosed that members of the Economic Management Team will on Monday meet state governors on the issue of new National Minimum Wage.
This is even as labour unions have declared November 6th as commencement date of a nationwide industrial action to press home their demands.
The labour minister who reiterated that no final decision has been taken on the matter, however threatened that the government will not hesitate to implement the ‘No work, no pay’ rule which he claimed started during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Ngige said, “I have come here to consult with the Vice President and Mr. President. On Monday, the economic team will meet and the governors are supposed to come so that the Federal Government will brief them on what is on the ground and we will see what they will be able to put to us, because the government side is still three tiers: the federal, states and the local governments. The Federal Government is the leader.
“So, we are inviting them to come so that we will listen to them again, tell them what we are doing and what we intend to do, because they even have members on that committee.
“So, on Monday we will have a very useful discussion before the tripartite committee will come and submit its report.”
On labour union’s announcement of November 6th for another round of strike, he insisted that the “no work, no pay” policy is not new.
He said what the government was doing was just to re-echo it.
“The issue of no-work, no-pay is not a new thing, it is an existing law passed by the National Assembly in 2004 and assented to by Obasanjo.
“The law protects both the employers and employees. We are just re- echoing it. It is not anything punitive and new, it has been around since Obasanjo,” he said.
Ngige disagreed with the position of the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress on the draft White Paper on Industrial Harmony.
He said, “I don’t think they read the reports of the committee that was set up. The one I participated in is the white paper drafting and the recommendation is there, we told government not to accept.
“So the labour officials are talking out of may be misinformation because the particular aspect of it they are talking about we rejected it – where they say non-elected member should not lead them in negotiation, my committee said, `no’ because those people they call Secretary–General or General Secretary, some of them become automatic members of those unions.
“So, you don’t have to dispossess them of the right to lead. So government rejected it but they are shouting that government accepted it,’’ he added.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) of October 17th presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the draft White Paper on the report of the Technical Committee on the Industrial Relations Matters in the Federal Public Service.
This includes the implementation of the no-work, no pay principle when workers go on strike in the federal public service.
Ngige, had noted that the public service in Nigeria was bedevilled with problems and conflict areas; hence governments over time set up various committees and brought out circulars in a bid to stem the tide of industrial action.