Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), has taken a swipe at the government for the turn of event at the 2017 National Workers Day Celebration in Abuja.
Aggrieved Nigerian workers had barred government officials which included the leadership of the National Assembly and some Federal Ministers from delivering their prepared addresses at the rally allegedly due to the non-resolution of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) issue.
Reacting to the incident, the Director General of NECA, Mr. Olusegun Oshinowo noted that: “the unfortunate incident was needless and avoidable if Government had proactively done the needful”.
Oshinowo noted that there was indeed an understanding that the National Minimum Wage would be due for discussion after five years. In effect, the 2011 agreement, ordinarily, should be open for discussion in 2016.
Government should not have waited for workers’ repeated clamour for discussions before acting in good faith”
He said that there was a time-tested and enshrined procedure for the discussion of the National Minimum Wage, which is premised on the principle of social dialogue and collective bargaining among the Tripartite.
This according to him, entails the setting up of a National Minimum Wage Committee comprising representatives of the Federal Government, led by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, State Governments, usually represented by three State Governors, Employers in the Private Sector under the aegis of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and Organised Labour as represented by NLC and TUC”.
According to NECA, “what Government must do, therefore, without delay is to immediately constitute the Committee and convene a meeting to start off the discussions on the NMW”.
On the sore issue of the timeliness of a review in view of the hard hitting economic recession, Oshinowo admonished that “the issue of procedure should be separated from the substance or subject.
Hence, the imperative to respect procedure should take precedence over substance. It is the responsibility of the Committee to sort out the issue of desirability of review or sustenance of status quo in the event that timing for upward review is inappropriate”.
He further explained that “opening discussions on the National Minimum Wage does not automatically translate into an unsustainable wage increase. The beauty of Collective Bargaining is the opportunity to come to the table with constructive positions and submissions. The principle of reasonableness and superior arguments has always carried the day. Conclusions at the platform would not necessarily be for or against increase. It would be to examine the need for or against and justifications for whatever positions are canvassed,” he said.