The Federal Government has urged Labour to effectively engage State governments on the implementation of the new national minimum wage to ensure workers are not short-changed.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, gave the charge when he received in audience the national executivesof the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), led by its president, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel, in Abuja.
He stressed that the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act, as a national law, should be obeyed by every tier of government without exception.
The Minister explained that Government had not been foot-dragging on reaching an agreement with Labour on the consequential adjustment arising from the increase in minimum wage, but had been very conscious of the economic situation of the country and strivingto strike a balance on such a delicate matter. He therefore appealed for the understanding of Labour.
Ngige appreciated the important role of public servants as those who labour for the nation and on that account deserving of attention, but called for the collective sacrifice of all Nigerians to move the country forward.
Noting that government had always been mindful of the welfare of workers, the Minister restated that Government had set up a Presidential Committee on Salary to take a holistic look at the wage structure of the Public Service and its lopsidedness.
He implored Labour to always tow the part of social dialogue on issues, and not dangle strike over the head of government like the sword Damocles, and assured Labour that government would never lose sight of their wellbeing.
The Minister also urged NSITF to organise workshops to orientate Local Government employers on the workings of the Employee Compensation Act and the benefits workers are entitled to, as well as the general mandate of the Fund.
Ngige reminded Labour to see to the proper enforcement of the provisions of the Employers Compensation Act (ECA) in all the tiers of government, as “the ECA protects workers and gives them better welfare. Workers are entitled to compensations under the Act for injuries, disabilities and even death sustained in the course of work”.
Speaking, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, implored Labour to sheath their sword and give government more time to resolve the issue at stake.
Earlier, the President of NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel lamented that NULGE lacked a negotiating machinery, as it didn’t belong to any Council. He asked that the Union be integrated into existing councils or had one created for it.
He also decried the non-implementation of their scheme of service in some states, which had seen their members’ services terminating at GL 14 or 15, and called for the resolution of the issue.