The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, yesterday said the two-week ultimatum by organized labour over the minimum wage is an attempt to intimidate and blackmail the government which negates negotiation convention.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, Ngige said the labour was just crying wolf where there is none as the government is willing and ready to resume and conclude the work of the minimum wage committee.
Ngige said the claims by the organized labour that he deliberately stalled the minimum wage process was untrue and uncalled for, adding that the committee was still working within the deadline it set for itself.
The minister said in line with its commitment to the minimums wage process, himself and Chairman of the Committee, Ms Amma Pepple, will brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the progress so far made by the committee today.
He said the work of the committee, including a draft bill to be sent to the President and subsequently to the National Assembly and all other work of the committee were ready except the issue of a particular figure to be agreed upon.
He disclosed that while it is easy for organised Labour to agree on a figure, it was not that easy for the government as it must put into consideration the economic situation in the country and the ability of the various state governments as well as the private sector to pay the agreed figure.
He said while organised Labour first made a presentation of N56,000 as its demand and withdrew its only to make another presentation of N65,000, the Organised Private Sector made a presentation of N42,000 and later withdrew it for lower presentation of N25,000.
Ngige said with all the presentations, the government needed to look at everything presented before arriving at a figure which can be paid by all.
“We don’t want people to renege on the agreement when we finally come up with something. That is why the President insisted that the governors must be part of the process. They had complained that they were not part of the last process,” Ngige said.