The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has explained the process of the government’s implementation of the new N30,000 minimum wage.
He confirmed that while the new minimum wage has been implemented from Salaries Grade Level 1 to 7, that of levels 7- 17 are being considered as negotiations are ongoing.
According to him, it is a consequential adjustment because once those at the lowest rungs of the ladder begin to earn N30,000, their salaries will impinge into the Level 6/7.
Consequently, there has to be a process of “collective bargaining”.
According to him, “it’s not a general wage review”.
The minister further explained that the government in anticipation of a general wage review has put in place a presidential committee on salaries on wages for which the Minister of Finance is the chairman, assisted by himself (Ngige) and other ministers.
“We are putting a report to the government on a general wage review because there are some agencies of government that the salaries of people on the same level with those in pure civil service, when compared, the man in that agency is earning times three, 300 per cent of what the person is earning”.
About a week ago, organised labour, had issued a strike notice to the Federal Government, asking the Minister of Labour to re-convene the negotiating meeting and finalise on the issues of consequential salaries adjustment for workers who are in salaries grade level seven and above.
The unions are demanding for 29 per cent salary increase for officers on grade seven to 14, and 24 per cent for grade 15 to 17, but the government is proposing 11 per cent for officers on grade level 7 to 14, and 6.5 per cent for officers on grade level 15 to 17.
They are expected to meet on Tuesday with heads of government agencies and parastatals, to try to reach an agreement on what amount can actually be paid to workers.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has commenced dialogue with Labour Unions again in Abuja on Wednesday as time runs out on a deadline issued by the unions for the payment of the thirty thousand naira minimum wage.
According to a press statement signed by the Director public relations unit of the ministry of labour, the meeting is part of the federal government efforts to prevent the industrial action which the workers have planned to embark upon by mid October.
The communique notes that both The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council are participating in the latest meeting with The minister Of Labour.
Labour leaders had issued a joint communique on October the seventh, warning that they can not guarantee industrial harmony by October the sixteenth, if the Federal Government fail to reconvene a meeting of the committee on consequential adjustments.
Ministers on the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday stormed the courtroom as tribunal rules on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate Atiku Abubakar.
They include Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige; Minister of Works and Housing, Raji Fashola, Minister of State for Niger Delta, Festus Keyamo; Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami.
Also present in court is President Buhari’s Chief Of Staff, Abba Kyari who was a witness for the president at the tribunal.
Some state governors were also in attendance. They include Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, among others.
The main opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is also represented as the Chairman, Uche Secondus is in attendance. Adam Oshiomhole, national chairman of the APC was also in the courtroom filled with many other top individuals.
Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are accusing the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, of delaying in issuing the circular for the minimum wage implementation.
The union disclosed this on Monday while staging a peaceful protest outside the Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
They also accused the minister of using thugs against them when they protested at his residence last week.
The National President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba who led the protest said “the minimum wage has been put into law, we don’t need to beg anyone for implementation.
“We are not going to see anybody for implementation, the President passed the bill on the 18th of April and it takes effect from that day.
“Let it also be on notice, that will not give any further notice or deadline on when our alert will be seen in our accounts which must be made public by the Federal Government”.
Aside from the minimum wage, the labour movement is also seeking clarification on why mister Frank Kokori who was initially appointed as the chairman of National Social Insurance Trust Fund in 2017 was replaced.
The past board members are currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ngige, however, charged the new board to resist the temptation of fixing special allowances for themselves urging them to execute their duties fairly and transparently.
He also advised them to focus on staff welfare, not personal enrichment.
The inauguration of the new board comes a day after the Presidency said Ngige, had the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari in all the actions he (Ngige) had taken concerning the NSITF.
The Presidency in a statement on Sunday by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said, “All actions taken by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment toward the resuscitation and repositioning of this ailing agency (NSITF), including the Administrative Panel of Inquiry into the affairs of the NSITF and the suspension of the inauguration of the board in 2018 were part of the special work plan approved for the minister by Mr President.
“The appointment of the chairman of this board, which is in consonance with Section 4(a) of the NSITF Act CAP N88 of 2004, was also approved by Mr President since 23rd July, 2018, on the recommendation of the minister. Mr Austin Enejamo-Isire, a chartered accountant; Fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a renowned insurance expert; senior member, Chartered Institute of Insurance of Nigeria; Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria; and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria was approved by Mr President for this position,” the statement read in part.
There had been controversy over the inauguration of the NSITF board after Ngige postponed the board’s inauguration on the day it was scheduled to hold on April 18, 2019.
The Presidency has finally reacted to the disagreement between the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over the appointment of the Chairman of the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
In its position made known through a spokesman, Femi Adesina, the presidency noted that NSITF is a hundred percent, Federal Government of Nigeria owned insurance parastatal, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, designed for the purpose of insuring workers (employees) in the public and private sectors.
According to the statement by Adesina on Sunday, the organization is empowered by law to implement the Employee Compensation Act (ECA) 2010 with a mandate to insure workers and pay them compensation for accidents, deaths, and injuries in the course of work.
Below is the full statement by the special aide to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“NSITF CHAIRMANSHIP: FACTS OF THE MATTER, BY PRESIDENCY
Following the disagreement between the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) over the appointment of the Chairman of the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), the Presidency wishes to clarify as follows:
A. That the NSITF is a hundred percent, Federal Government of Nigeria owned insurance parastatal, under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, designed for the role of insuring workers (employees) in the public and private sectors. The organization is empowered by law to implement the Employee Compensation Act (ECA) 2010 with mandate to insure workers and pay them compensation for accidents, deaths and injuries in the course of work.
B. The NSITF was bedevilled and riddled with corruption between 2012 – 2015, which resulted in a colossal loss and mismanagement of about N48 billion out of the total N62 billion contributions during the said period. These were contributions by the Employers – viz government and the private sector for payment of compensation to workers and even to Employers for loss of man-hours by their workers. This fraud has been investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the last Chairman and some members of the former board and some officials of the NSITF are presently being prosecuted by the EFCC.
C. All actions taken by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment towards the resuscitation and repositioning of this ailing agency, including the Administrative Panel of Inquiry into the affairs of NSITF and the suspension of the inauguration of the board in 2018 were part of the special work plan approved for the Honourable Minister by Mr. President.
D. The appointment of the Chairman of this board, which is in consonance with Sec. 4(a) of the NSITF Act CAP N88 of 2004 was also approved by Mr. President since 23rd July, 2018 on the recommendation of the Hon. Minister. Mr. Austin Enejamo-Isire, a Chartered Accountant, Fellow, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and renowned Insurance expert, Senior Member, Chartered Institute of Insurance of Nigeria (CIIN), Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) was approved by Mr. President for this position. Also approved by Mr. President were the Managing Director and three Executive Directors who had assumed duties since 18 April 2017.
Others also approved as Non-Executive Directors are two (2) members to represent the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), two members to represent the Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and one (1) member each to represent the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment. Members of this board are to be formally inaugurated at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 13, 2019 by the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja.
E. Comrade Frank Kokori , our respected veteran labour leader has Mr. President’s immense respect and has also been appointed on the recommendation of the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment to chair the board of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), a diploma awarding labour institution.
Finally, the Presidency has noted with deep concern and regrets, the events that culminated in a skirmish at the private residence of the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment, and condemns it, in its entirety. However, in the spirit of reconciliation, the Presidency appeals for calm from the NLC and the Ministry of Labour and Employment officials, as there are ongoing efforts to reconcile the NLC leadership with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, led by their Minister who has doggedly been fighting the cause of Nigerian workers whenever their issue is discussed by government, the latest being the enactment of the new National Minimum Wage Act 2019.”
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, was whisked away during a session that turned violent at a meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sunday.
Some stakeholders of the party escaped being attacked by hoodlums, others, however, were not so lucky as they were attacked by disgruntled men in Akwa, the Anambra State capital, shortly after the party’s ward congress.
While some members of the party were expressing their displeasure over the outcome of the Congress, the tension got heightened when the Minister tried justifying the ward congress that was held at his ward but another party member; Tony Nwoye disagreed with him pointing out some issues.
He noted the absence of the Congress panel, non-provision of party membership register for the Congress, non-availability of the result sheet which was reportedly due to the absence of panel as well as the alleged existence of an imposter.
A new panel was inaugurated despite the appeal and explanations by the state Publicity Secretary, Okelo Mmadukaife and the National Auditor of the Party, George Muoghalu.
The meeting ended inconclusively as the new Congress panel had no chance to address the party or schedule a new date for a fresh congress.
In this exclusive interview with Channels Television, the Minister of Labour and Emplyment, Dr Chris Ngige, speaks on how the Federal Government is addressing the issue of salary shortfall, especially as it relates to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) among several other issues in the Ministry.
Let us begin with the rationale behind the ‘No Work, No Pay’ which is really coming behind the string of the industrial action.
The No work, No pay phenomenon entered the National Law in 2004, Law of the Federation and the Trade Dispute Act. It makes provision in Section 43 and goes to say, “That where negotiations are broken down between an employer or an employee, or where there was no discussion at all, and the worker feels that he should go on strike because there is no slave labour, you can withdraw your services”. You go on strike but for as long as you are out, the employer reserves the right and is no longer compelled by the law of the Employee/Employer Relationship, to pay you any emolument – no salary, no allowances for the period in question and it goes further to say that that period should not count as part of the pensionable periods for the worker.
When did you begin implementation?
Employers have been observing it. The only thing is that we are re-amplifying it. We are re-announcing, we are saying this law exists. Why? Because we have to give the law a human face this time around. When ASUU went, they didn’t confront any of the trade union regulations, there was no notice.
Now, the Federal Government plans to review the constitution so to speak, of labour unions with a view to looking at the leadership tenure and review yet. How far have you gone with this?
We have a committee in sitting and the committee is already working to make sure that most of the constitution have tenure. It cannot be open-ended.
What are you looking at? What sort of time limit?
We don’t have a time limit but there must be a time limit in there. Some people say you do three terms, we are not bothered provided all the members of the association agree to that.
So there is no draft yet for that?
No, we are not imposing anything. We are only trying to see that the right things are done.
Are you not concerned that this will put you on a collision course?
No, there will not be collision course at all. In fact, a lot of the unions are happy about that. For some people, because there is no time limit, they keep on presenting themselves. At a point now, there is factionalisation because for some people you must go, you must give way but it is not in your constitution. We are trying to help the unions to be on the right path of democracy.
But by November 1, the deadline for the implementation of the Federal Government-ASUU Agreement would have popped up. Give me some latest on that.
Well, the major scale of agreements reached with ASUU is in the areas of earn allowances firstly. The Federal Government earmarks some money for payments in September and October and I think that is being addressed. The AIE was released even while we were discussing for the first tranche of (I think) N23bn and by October, another tranche. It is for the earning allowances paid.
Not only by October, it is a backlog from 2013. And there is also the fund for the revitalisation of the university system. We offer some of them something. We do not have money, it was agreed and the government will see to that. We have made provisions for the payment as the necessary approvals have been given to the Minister of Finance. And between the Minister of Finance, the Accountant-General’s office, and the Budget and Planning, they will take care of it. There was also the issue of shortfall in salaries, it did not only affect themselves, it affected the people in the Civil Service and the other public corporations and agencies. The shortfalls arose because they are not on what we call IPPIS – the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), so they are not there and once you are not there and not captured into the database of IPPIS, anything can happen because they are what we call “irregular allowances.” That is where they are paid from, irregular salaries and allowances. So it is like a manual thing actually.
So this is being addressed holistically as we speak?
Oh yeah. By now, the teaching hospitals will start being on IPPIS and when they just get on IPPIS, that will be a thing of the past. We are trying to convince ASUU to go into IPPIS, they are refusing. It is good I mention it. They are refusing and the reason they are giving for refusing is that the IPPIS software will not pay you two times, Yes!
What are you suggesting?
Because some lecturers work here, in one university A and work in another university B, and sometimes in university C.
Is that owing to the debt of lecturers?
Oh yeah, the National Universities Commission approved that for them. It is not an illegal thing. So that is why they are resisting.
And why are you insisting?
We are insisting because that is the only way you can receive your salaries regularly for now. It is better you get one salary fully and then make a special case for the second place you are teaching or third place you are teaching. That is my take on it. We discussed freely and that is the situation.
Let us talk about labour unions renewing their call for the review of the national minimum wage. What exactly is happening in this regard?
What exactly is happening is that our own last minimum wage law accented to by (former) President (Goodluck) Jonathan expired last year. Government agreed to do some cushioning effect and put up a technical committee. So we have done a framework for a 30-man committee and that has been passed by the Federal Executive Council. The committee is a broad-based committee. The committee now, we have gotten a nomination – the final of the nominations. We are waiting for the appointment of the chairman and the inauguration of the committee. If I ask you, you will say that the minimum wage N18,500, why can’t they pay N18,500?
The minimum wage of N18,500 means that this is the minimum wage any employer can be or should pay by law. Even you, employing a house help, your house help should not earn anything less than N18,500; that is the implication. Even people who take apprentices, N18,500 is the minimum thing. So you can see that it is not only for government. Besides, that N18,500 is a benchmark. You have to then move up on all the other salary grade levels on a sliding scale.
So that is something you think the Federal Government cannot keep up with?
Not Federal Government, because Federal Government is not the only person employing. That is why we are doing social dialoguing, that is why we are meeting in a minimum wage committee and everybody will put the cards on the table.
There are strong indications that the workers of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), have finally reached an agreement with the Minister of Labour, Mr Chris Ngige following an industrial action it earlier embarked upon.
The staff of the agency had on Thursday, proceeded on a three-day warning strike to press home their demand for better welfare packing, with a directive issued in Abuja by the Trade Union Congress and the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria.
Following this development, Dr. Ngige convened a meeting with the grieving workers led by its by Director-General, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja and representatives of the TUC, ASCSN, FCT and the Nigeria Civil Service Union.
It was gathered that the meeting ended with a joint settlement agreement signed by both parties with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour as a witness.
According to the NEMA’s Spokesperson, Mr Sani Datti, its offices are expected to re-open for normal operation nationwide today, as contained in a statement, made available to Channels Television on Friday.
The Deputy-President of the United Labour Congress (ULC), Mr Igwe Achese, says contrary to claims by the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, that the ULC is not recognised by the Federal Government, the union is registered under the Trade Union Act.
Ngige had while briefing journalists on Friday about the Federal Government’s stand on the activities of some trade unions in the country said, “Our immediate reaction is to remind the promoters of this Association that they are not yet a Federal Government recognised Federation of Trade Unions and hence cannot speak on behalf of any Trade union.
“The Trade Union Act. CAP T14, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, is explicitly clear on how a group of Trade Unions can coalesce to form a Federation of Trade Unions.”
But Achese, who is also the President of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, said the ULC is registered under the Trade Union Act.
“We have gone through the process of registration, the act is very clear when you talk about the issues of labour movement,” he said during an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
Speaking further, he explained that the amendment of the Trade Union Act by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration changed the core of unionism in the country.
He said, “If you recall, when NLC was formed by an Act by the then Head of State, Obasanjo, because it is only Obasanjo that created the two labour centres you are seeing.
“One, as a military Head of State in 1977/78, we had about four labour federations in the country at that time. Then these four labour federations were collapsed together by Obasanjo and created just one – the NLC.
“Now, at the time these federations were all collapsed and a fair directive was given to say NLC must exist, nobody protested against that. Then NLC is existing today as an institution.”
He said in 2004, as a democratic President, Obasanjo, however, amended the Act that created the NLC.
“He amended that Act and proscribed NLC and amended that Act that gave room that TUC should be registered as a labour federation. It means that as a country you can have more than one labour centre,” he added.
The Union Labour Congress and the Minister of Labour, Mr Chris Ngige have been at a disagreement following the inability of the ministry to recognise the union in the country, whereby Ngige openly said he recognises only the Nigerian Labour Congress.
The Federal Government has approved the constitution of a minimum wage review committee to negotiate with labour unions and consider a new minimum wage for the country.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, told State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting that the Federal Government will nominate five members of the 29-member committee.
According to him, Nigerian Governors Forum, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the organised private sector, Trade Union Congress and the Nigerian Labour Congress will also be part of the committee.
The minister said the issue of the minimum wage was a constitutional issue and all stakeholders would be involved in the discussions.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, said the government was reviewing the sorry state of prisons, overcrowding and the inadequate infrastructure that characterise Nigerian prisons.
Options that could be considered include granting prerogative of mercy to some inmates, the minister said.