The Technical Committee on National Minimum Wage, saddled with the responsibility of reviewing workers’ salaries to reflect current socio-economic realities, will submit its report next week.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, made this known while addressing State House correspondents on labour matters, including strike actions embarked upon by some trade unions in the country.
Ngige noted with concern the inability of some state governments to settle their monthly workers’ salaries , as well as the inflationary trend in the country.
“On the minimum wage issue, we have a technical committee that is working and members of the two congresses are on the committee. We are almost finishing our work and we are handing over next week.
“Everyone knows that prices have gone up and in some states, workers are not getting salaries. They are unable to pay the minimum wage. These are the things we have taken into account in our discussion.
“We also have warnings from doctors’ union and ASUU, as well as NASU. We are discussing with them but we want to appeal to all of them that there is nothing like warning strike,’’ he said..
He, however, advised trade unions to always engage in dialogue and negotiation with constituted authorities in attempting to resolve labour issues.
According to him, there is nothing industrial unions cannot achieve through negotiation, urging that unions should always imbibe the culture of social dialogue.
“There is nothing you cannot get by negotiation and you cannot get certain things by threats.
“Warning strikes as far as government is concerned are threats. I have made it clear to them.
“Government and labour laws make provision for social dialogue and collective bargaining agreements. It also makes provision for the review of the agreements.
“Nigerian unions should imbibe the culture of social dialogue.
“They can go on strike after giving the mandatory notices but the same law says in Section 43 that if you withdraw your services, your union is supposed to pay you. Your employer will not pay.
“That is how the issue of no work, no pay came up. It is in the country’s labour. For the period you withdraw your services, it will not count for you in your pensionable times. It is taken as broken service,’’ he added.
He said it was duty bound on the leaderships of the industrial unions to always lecture their members on the labour law to avoid industrial unrest.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ngige had earlier threatened to invoke ‘No work, no pay’ on the striking members of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).
The minister issued the threat notice via a statement in Abuja.
He urged the striking workers to shelve the five-day warning strike which took effect from Jan. 30.
He said: “I wish to assure you that the Federal Government is ready and willing to fully dialogue with members of ASUP and government will open an unhindered channel of communication with all stakeholders and shall maintain this.
“Moreover, the Federal Ministry of Education has been discussing issues with ASUP on the concerns raised.
“Therefore, it is important for Trade unions to embrace dialogue in the pursuit and attainment of the economic and social interests of their members anchored on equity, natural justice and agreed procedures.’’ (NAN)