The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has again urged the Federal Government to inaugurate the National Minimum Wage Committee to enable it have ample time to carry out its assignment diligently.

TUC’s Deputy President, Mr. Tommy Okon, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Lagos that the failure to inaugurate the committee, three months to the expiration of the current minimum wage, was worrisome.

He said organised labour would not want to be put under pressure on the wage increase because it had to be done in line with the rule of engagement.

The labour leader said organised labour had since submitted the list of members that would be part of the committee for the minimum wage negotiations.

“The intention of the government is not known to us. This is because by now, the committee should have been inaugurated.“We do not want a situation where the work of the committee is done under desperation. This is January, and the N30,000 national minimum wage will expire on April 18 this year (2024).

“So, it is expected that by now, the committee would have been inaugurated and a chairman of the committee appointed. This is because it is tripartite in nature, and the committee has to conduct the activities also on zonal basis.

“Thereafter, it will come to a conclusion where whatever will be agreed will also be sent to the National Assembly which in turn will also look at the public hearing and thereafter send it to Mr. President for assent,” Okon said.

The TUC chief said there were positive and negative implications in further delay of setting up the committee.

According to him, the positive is in the sense that government may have an agenda unknown to labour and try to be sure of what it wants to come out with.

“However, the negative implication is that it may send a wrong signal that the government is not willing to negotiate the National Minimum Wage and that will be a very wrong impression, if the public is taking that as the position.

“Also, Nigerian workers and the masses are not finding it easy because of the socio-economic challenges.

“We know that the N30,000 minimum wage cannot do anything, much less for transportation, payment of house rent, children’s school fees, even taking care of some life-threatening challenges.

“So, these are the implications. It is also going to send a negative signal to even the international communities. This is because now, we are talking about transition to energy. These are things that need to be put in place,” Okon said.

The TUC chief also said the issue of the National Minimum Wage review was a task that must be done well.

The Federal Government had, on January 17, pledged to fulfill its agreements with organised labour.Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mrs. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, announced this during a visit to the office of the TUC in Abuja.

Onyejeocha said the Federal Government understood the plight of the trade unions and was ready to partner, but the channels of communication must be kept open.

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