The federal government wednesday in Abuja denied reports that it had acceded to N30, 000 as the national minimum wage.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the State House, Abuja, the Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, said no such decision was made.
He said at the last meeting of the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee, the organised labour, organised private sector and the government failed to reach a consensus on minimum wage.
According to him, there were only adjustments by some groups, which had earlier made proposals while others that were hitherto unable to come up with their minimum wage proposals submitted theirs at the meeting.
The minister said the issue of minimum wage was a sensitive matter that all stakeholders must agree to because it must be what they all have the ability to pay.
He explained, “We reconvened at the Minimum Wage Committee on the 4th and 5th of October. Tripartite means three groups are negotiating. The first group is the organised labour. The second group is the organised private sector. The third group is the government, which is called the authentic authority by the ILO.
“So, we met and if you also remember, the contentious issue was for figures to be fixed and we had all proposed our figures. But throughout the negotiation, figures were also adjusted. Labour unions adjusted their figure and came down to N30, 000. Organised private sector adjusted their figures and came to N25, 000 as earlier proposed to N30, 000.
“The federal government is carrying the governors along. The governors made their presentation. The federal government made its presentation and we discussed because the cardinal mechanism under the ILO is the ability to pay because the issue of minimum wage under Convention 131 states that there must be a consensus agreement.
“So, we have a figure from the state government. The federal government has its own. The state governments’ figure the last time was N20, 000. Federal government’s figure was N24, 000.
“This was where we all stood. These were the figures offered. But we have not arrived at a consensus. We are still continuing to discuss informally to see if we can arrive at a common figure.
“This has become pertinent because the dailies yesterday were awash with news that we had all agreed on N30, 000. That is not true. The federal government has not agreed on that.
“The federal government also is carrying the states along with them because a lot of the workers are in the states and it is a very sensitive matter and we cannot force the issue of minimum wage on any one. “So, we must agree on a figure that the federal and state governments will be able to pay.
“This government doesn’t want any retrenchment and Mr. President has always said that no worker should be retrenched as long as this administration is on. No worker will be denied his promotion as long as this administration is on and the decision to replace those who have retired or are dead should continue to be done. So, this is the situation.”
Also briefing, the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Alhaji Suleiman Hassan, said the council also approved N5.2 billion for the construction of Kajiji-Yabo-Guraya Road in Sokoto State.
He said, “The council this afternoon approved the award of the contract for the construction of Kajiji-Yabo-Guraya Road in Sokoto State. This is a 28.75-kilometre road joining Sokoto and Zamfara States. It is in a very good agricultural zone.
“The road will ferry agricultural goods and human traffic between these states and onto neighbouring countries of Niger Republic and Benin Republic. This contract was awarded to Messrs Skye Technical and Construction Company at the cost of N5.2bn.”