The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is not ruling out strike to reopen stalled negotiations on its demand for better wages, NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, told The Guardian in an exclusive interview yesterday.

“If it becomes necessary to declare a strike action over the minimum wage imbroglio, we would do that. But it will be communicated appropriately to the rank and file after the meeting of the organised labour,” he said.

The declaration came as the labour movement and its civil society allies meet in Lagos today to decide the next line of action on the suspension of negotiations by government.

Wabba accused the Federal Government of employing delay tactics on the implementation of a new minimum wage for the country. According to him, the committees that worked on the figure had reached agreement on average, and main and medium figures for debate, before Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige suddenly adjourned the meeting.

The labour movement and its allies have not received any communication from the government and are yet to see any concrete action taken to reconvene the meeting, he said. He noted that the three committees: the one working on the proposed law that would replace the 2011 Act, the one working on the main report, and the one working on the figure, have all concluded their reports. “Both Conventions 98 and 131 that relate directly to the issue of minimum wage have not been violated by labour in the negotiation processes.

The issue of adjourning a meeting sine die on a day that the report of that collective bargaining is supposed to be concluded is indeed a violation of the principle of tripartism. This is because no one party in the tripartite process can unilaterally impose a decision on the other. “This negates an agreement that had been reached. The committee had a work plan within which to conclude its assignment on or before August 21, 2018.

We had to shift the date because it fell on a public holiday after the tripartite agreement,” Wabba explained.

He said that the much-touted inability of some states to pay the current N18,000 minimum wage is the result of misplaced priority.

According to him, “In the last three months, revenues have so much increased from around N400 billion to about N1trillion.

Yet, we see some state governments that are still unable to pay salaries. If states like Yobe, Katsina and Jigawa can pay salaries and gratuity, why can’t most states?” Read more<<<<<

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