The Federal Government has appealed to the Organised Private Sector not to retrench its workers due to the consequential adjustments resulting from the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage of N30,000.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, made the appeal in Abuja on Monday during a valedictory session organised for him and the Minister of State by staff of the ministry.
According to him, the new minimum wage is for the lowest of low, that is grade level one and because of that the government is now carrying out the consequential adjustments.
“So, I am appealing to the organised labour unions of workers to assist government, as the load is going to be too big.
“I want them to cooperate in order to get something good for those in the consequential adjustments level.
“I also want to plead with the Manufactures Association of Nigeria, MAN, and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, to get the private sector not to retrench as that is what President Muhammadu Buhari is afraid of – retrenchment.
“This government has never retrenched workers since we came and instead we have employed more.
“So we are pleading with the organised private sector not to retrench workers in a bid to adjust to the consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage,” he said.
He also appealed to labour unions to see reason with employers by ensuring industrial harmony in furtherance of the implementation of the new wage regime.
“I want to assure you that if you do not receive the minimum wage now, you are surely going to receive the arrears,” he added.
Ngige also said that the ministry had restored and forged industrial harmony through social dialogue in several sectors such as the economy, health, education, and petroleum.
He said that since 2015 the ministry had recorded 1,425 trade disputes and complaints.
According to him, 788 of the disputes had been completely resolved while 37 cases had been referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel, just as 600 of them are still awaiting but at various stages of mediation and conciliation.
He, however, noted that in order to promote decent work and enforce labour standards for the safety and well-being of workers, the ministry conducted workers inspection on 10, 098 factories nationwide.
Ngige said that the exercise was in line with the provisions of the Factories Act 2004, and in conformity with the terms and conditions of employment meant to protect workers.
“We also issued a total of 426 fresh certificates of Factory Registration, renewing 3,718, and amending 37, and revoking 36 certificates.
“Meanwhile, the ministry has developed and published, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, a Nigerian National Profile on Occupational Safety and Health,” he said.
On the delay in the setting up of the National Labour Advisory Council, NLAC, Ngige said that attempts to create budget lines in 2017 and 2018 for the re-establishment of the council, which had not been alive in the past seven years, failed.
Ngige, however, said that recent efforts were successful as it was passed in the then yet to be signed 2019 budget.
“Even though we observed that our Executive funding proposal was slashed by more than 60 per cent making it look like it will be a failed project.
“It is our hope that our successor, the next Labour minister will resuscitate the body with this initial funding for the benefits of all in the tripartite as the existence of this Council will be enormously felt by both the social partners and Government.
“From the foregoing therefore, it is clear we have consistently been fighting to resuscitate this body which is a good establishment that will make for decent work agenda of the employer and employee in the world of work,” Ngige said.
He praised the management and staff of the ministry and the agencies under it for their support and cooperation.
He said that the support ensured the attainment of the modest achievements recorded.
Prof. Stephen Ocheni, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, commended President Buhari for the opportunity to serve.
“Today, as we celebrate the successful end of the first term of his administration, we must all acknowledge and appreciate Mr President for his visionary and purposeful leadership,” he said.