Minimum wage: Don’t retrench workers, FG begs employers

The Federal Government has appealed to privately-owned companies not to retrench workers because of the  N30, 000 new minimum wage.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige,  made the appeal while delivering a speech on his achievements in the ministry in Abuja on Monday.

 He said the  Muhammadu Buhari administration had not downsized government workforce despite the recession and the economic hardship when it came into power in 2015.

He said, “The minimum wage is for the lowest cadre of workers but we are now doing the inconsequential. We are pleading with our brothers in the organised labour unions to assist the government. The load is going to be big but we want them to cooperate so that we get something for those on the consequential adjustment level.

“At the same time, we plead with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association to get the private sector not to retrench workers because this is what President Buhari is afraid of.

“Since we came in, this government has not retrenched any worker. Instead, we employed more.  We are pleading with the organised private sector not to retrench workers in a bid to adjust or do the consequential adjustment for the minimum wage.”

 According to the former lawmaker,   the new minimum wage law protects the rights of workers and gives room for reviews and punishments for non-compliance.

Ngige said despite the upward review of the budget for the ministry from N200m in 2015 to N12bn, all was not well with the budgetary system.

He said, “In our 2016, 2017 and 2018 budgets, there were distortions and insertions under the guise of constituency projects that greatly affected the performance of our programmes and projects. This is clearly not in consonance with the spirit of Section 80 of the constitution. Therefore, let the National Assembly consult the executive via robust defence sessions in order to allow the executive to do its own work unfettered.”

According to the minister, the government, through the National Open Apprenticeship Scheme, Women Empowerment, Basic Business Training and other skill acquisition programmes and job creation activities empowered over 480,828 youths, using the National Directorate of Employment as a   platform.

Ngige said the ministry employed dialogue in several sectors of the economy to restore industrial harmony, adding that the ministry also ensured the entrenchment of the rule of law in Trade Unionism.

He said three additional unions were registered to cater for the concerns of pensioners while efforts were on to process more requests from various associations for recognition and registration as trade union.

The minister said the ministry under him also made efforts to check illegal migrations by collaborating with the International Labour Organisation to facilitate opportunities for Nigerians seeking to work abroad.
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