Minister of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige has said the government would negotiate with the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the new N56,000 minimum wage presented to it by the organised labour.
Speaking when he received the leadership of the Organisation of Trade Union in West Africa (OTUWA) in his office, Ngige said the Federal Government had received labour’s demand for wage increament and will reach a decision soonest.
He said in presenting their demands to government, labour leaders were merely obeying the dictates of workers, noting that at the appropriate time, government will meet them for negotiation.
His words: “They are performing their functions as officers of the union and so, nobody will frown at that.
“At the appropriate time, we will all sit down because what they have asked for is a re-negotiation of an existing agreement. Every agreement is subject to re-negotiation anytime when the partners request for it.
“Government will put necessary machinery in motion. The request has been presented to me as the Minister for my advice and we will advise as we should for government to take a decision before we start the formal process of negotiating the agreement.”
He assured the delegation of government’s support to achieve their set objective, even as he urged them to formalise their existence by signing a bilateral agreement with the Federal Government.
“We will, as a government, encourage you and your organisation. We will partner you just like we have partnered OATUU. But I will ask you to formalise your existence by establishing a bilateral relation with the government of Nigeria.
“When we get this request formally, we will take it to the Federal Executive Council for the President and our government to take note. When we have a bilateral relation with you, we can come to your aid in terms of materials. I promise that you will get the required support.
OTUWA’s President Mademba Sock said the goal of the new leadership of the sub-regional body is to, within the quickest time possible, regain all the lost ground in those years that the organisation was dormant and be in the position to take up very effectively, contributing to the quest for regional integration as was the dream and vision of the founding fathers of ECOWAS.
He said: “We would like to lead workers in the sub-region to partner our governments in this transformation and to help quicken the socio-cultural, economic and political integration of the people.”
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who led the delegation to the Ministry, said the Organisation had existed for over three decades and has a diplomatic status with ECOWAS, just like OATUU has diplomatic status with then African Union.
Wabba said all West African countries and their trade unions are members of the body because ILO now wants to deal with sub-regional bodies and this was a process that was driven by the ILO, adding that presently, the NLC is hosting the secretariat because of the proximity to the ECOWAS secretariat.