Minimum wage: V.P Osinbajo and economic team to meet on Tuesday

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The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led Economic Management Team (EMT) is scheduled to meet on Tuesday on the minimum wage issue.

Labour Minister Chris Ngige and the Chairman of the Negotiation Committee, Ms Amma Pepple, yesterday briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on how far the committee had gone with its assignment.

Ngige told State House correspondents at the end of the briefing that the Tuesday meeting was “specially dedicated to the issue of national minimum wage.”

He added: “For anybody to say that this government is stalling or playing games will be uncharitable, because we have done what we are supposed to do.

“We have the interest of workers at heart. We have not retrenched anybody.

“There is no embargo on employment. There is no embargo on promotions.

“We are paying backlog of promotional arrears; we are backing the backlog of transfers and repatriation and the rest of them and we are giving them houses under FISH and the rest of them.

“So, this government is a labour-friendly government and we must put smiles on their faces before the next election.

“We are labour activists; we don’t want to turn our backs on them.”

Pepple, a former Head of Service of the Federation, said the committee would submit its report before the end of this month.

Her words: “Everything is on course, but we need a definite figure from government and, of course, we have to carry the states along. “So, we need those figures so that we can conclude on the figures we include in our report.”

On how soon the new minimum wage might be ready, Pepple said: “This month. At least I expect our report will be ready this month. We are submitting our report to Mr. President this month.”

Ngige had, on Thursday, accused organised labour of blackmailing the government following a two-week ultimatum given for the conclusion of negotiation on the matter.

Labour leaders, he claimed, were unnecessarily intimidating government to adopt a new minimum wage that may not work.

Ngige blamed certain factors such as inability of governors to provide their figures to be debated by the committee negotiating the new minimum wage as one of the reasons for the delay.

According to Ngige, the organised private sector initially proposed a figure of N42,000 only to bring it down to N25,000, having taken into account the current economic situation, ability to pay and ability to enhance and create new jobs.

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