By Tosin Kolade
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Thursday rejected a policy unveiled by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) on the implementation of the national minimum wage.
On July 16, the Federal Government announced that it would start the implementation of the new minimum wage with workers earnings below N30, 000 monthly.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new minimum wage into law on April 18 this year.
The NSIWC circular on the implementation of the policy was signed by Mr Richard Egbule, the Chairman of the commission.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Federal Government has been at odds with labour for years over an apparent endless negotiation to pay Nigerian workers a long overdue minimum wage.
Egbule had said that the position of government was that the implementation of the wage would start with workers currently earning below N30,000, while others would follow after the conclusion of talks on consequential adjustments.
However, in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, the President of the TUC, Mr Quadri Olaleye, accused government of playing smart to avert industrial unrest.
“We have read with concern the circular released by Mr Richard Egbule, Executive Chairman of the National Minimum Wage Committee set up by the Federal Government to work out the consequential adjustment arising from the wage increase.
“Let it be known that this circular is unacceptable to us because it contradicts the raison d’etre for setting the committee,” the statement reads.
Olaleye said that the TUC considered the circular as a smart move on the part of government to discourage labour action, stressing that “labour is not fooled.
“We wonder why anything that has labour undertone becomes the issue of rejection by government. By this circular, the government is testing the patience of workers.
“We assure them that they either go to the negotiating table to complete the assignment or risk the wrath of workers.
“It will be recalled that recently the newly inaugurated green and red chambers of the National Assembly were showered with billions of naira at a time government is playing games with minimum wage.”
The TUC statement said that organised labour would not be blamed for any consequential action, arising from non-implementation of the minimum wage, adding that, “to be fore warned is to be fore-armed’’.