President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the membership of the proposed National Minimum Wage Committee which will be inaugurated any moment from now.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, made the disclosure after visiting the president in the State House, where he briefed him happenings in his ministry.

Nigige who recalled Buhari administration’s promise to address minimum wage issue while in office, said the date for the inauguration of the committee would be determined as soon as members of the organised labour return from the meeting of the Labour Governing Board in Geneva, Switzerland.

“When we came to power in 2015, there was a minimum wage, and by May 2016, we now had a deregulation in the petroleum industry and prices of petroleum products went up and we started discussions with the organised Labour.

“One of the agreements was that the issue would be addressed. The old law expired last year August and we are now in the process of empaneling a new national minimum wage committee.

“I have cleared the appointments with the president today and as soon as the Labour people come back from the Labour Governing Board meeting in Geneva, we will take a consensus date with the governors because it is a tripartite committee involving federal and states, the private sector – National Employment Consultative Agency (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These are the arms that will be involved. Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), their affiliates have done their nominations. What we are now trying to finetune is the date for inauguration,” he said.

Ngige who said discussion with the affected parties would decide whether the N56,000 minimum wage being demanded by the workers is achievable, said various jobs had been created by the agricultural policy of this government, stating that between five to seven million jobs have so far be created.

He said, “This is the first major opportunity we had to brief Mr. President especially as we had a harvest of strikes in September. So, we had to look at where we are and also look at where we are in terms of job creation, Labour administration and the issue of national minimum wage, which Labour has been asking the government to set in motion the process.

“We promised jobs but what has happened is that people tried to quantify jobs in terms of white collar jobs for graduates from universities, polytechnic but they don’t want to look at the blue collar jobs. Agriculture and agric chains alone have created more than 5-7 Million jobs. Talk in terms of rice. From rice tilling, harvesting, sending to the paddies, mills, and even where people are making the jut bags, transportations, people are getting jobs. So,  that value chain alone from agric is enormous.

“Take the N-power, we have created millions of jobs from here. Skill acquisition from the NDE and other agencies of government, jobs are being created. We give them tools as plumbers, electricians ,cosmetologists, shoe makers, tilers and several other areas. We have created several jobs.”

SOURCE : DAILY SUN

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