Nigeria: NLC, Others Hold Protest Over Minimum Wage

Minimum wage crisis.

Nigeria's organised labour unions will proceed with a planned protest today over a new national minimum wage, after a last minute attempt by the federal government to forestall the demonstration failed Monday night.

The federal government's meeting with labour union leaders to avert a national protest over non-transmission of a new national minimum wage bill to the National Assembly, was inconclusive Monday.

The planned protest by the labour unions is to demand that Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, will submit a bill to the parliament for the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage for workers.

The meeting started 9:20 p.m. Monday night ended 11:45 p.m.

The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, while addressing journalists at the end of the meeting with the union leaders, said the meeting was to prevent the threat of national industrial protest by the labour union on Tuesday.

NLC had threaten to embark on a nationwide protest on Tuesday for the federal government to send the tripartite committee report on the minimum wage to the National Assembly.

The organised labour gave the ultimatum, following Mr Buhari's statement that a "high powered technical committee" would be set up to device ways to ensure that its implementation did not lead to an increase in the level of borrowing.

But Mr Ngige said the government had made progress and by Tuesday, the definite date on which the bill will be transmitted to the National Assembly will be made known.

He said it has been difficult to arrive at a date to transmit the bill because there are processes to follow on the bill.

"We have to go to the Federal Executive Council with a council memo on the bill after that we go to the National Economic Council and the Council of State," he said.

"But for the National Council of State, the President has to look at his own time table and we inform past heads of state and justice of the federation. This can take two weeks," he said.

He said the government will try to accommodate the meeting this week in order to resolve the minimum wage issues.

"But we are trying to see if we can accommodate all these meetings by next week because we cannot do Council of State Meeting again this week. Immediately after that meeting (Council of State), we will transmit," he said.

The NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, said labour leaders have consulted and had agreed to meet with the government Tuesday by 1pm to ensure that the processes for the transmission of the bill would be completed.

"We will go ahead with the mass protest nationwide," he said.

According to him, the protest is about implementation and therefore, has no link with the transmission the bill.

"The protest is about how to get all parties committed to the issue of minimum wage. It is different from how we get this bill transmitted with time-line to the national assembly," he said.

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