The Federal Government has begun discussions on the new minimum wage proposal raised by the organised labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The debate began with the inauguration a technical Committee to outline all the nutty issues associated with the proposed wage increase in Abuja on Thursday.
The 16-Man Committee headed by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, would also look into other grievances raised by the labour unions, especially the recent increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as fuel.
Labour had submitted a wage proposal of N56, 000 to the Federal Government sometime in March 2016, which it also expects to go through the vetting of a tripartite arrangement before a realistic minimum wage could be settled for.
NLC which recently suspended its industrial action over the hike in fuel pump price had also faulted the 500billion palliative set aside by government in the 2016 budget without taking into cognizance the interest of workers and labour leaders in particular.
They had therefore demanded that government include stakeholders from the two labour centres if it must make the policy work effectively.
President Muhammadu Buhari had recently approved the appointment of Mohammed Buba as the Chairman of Board of Petroleum Products ?Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), a key component which also formed the labour demands.
Terms of reference for the Committee include looking into a framework of a national committee that will discuss the issue of the minimum wage, the suggestions of all parties which include government and the organised labour centres on how they can give amelioration to workers and Nigerians in general to cushion the effect of price hike as a result of increase in fuel pump price.
Secondly, the N500 billion provided in the 2016 budget by government as palliatives would also be subjected to a review by the new Committee.
The recommendation for the composition of the board of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has already been met.
Aside Ngige, the Committee’s membership comprises of the Minister of State, Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of Budget and Planning, Udo Udoma, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi, the Chairman of National Salaries and Wages Commission, R.O Egbule and the representative of the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.
Representatives from NLC include Peter Adeyemi, Amaechi Asugwuni, Ibrahim Khaleel, Igwe Achese and Abdullahi Sale, while TUC has Augustine Etafo, Alade Bashir Lawal and Abdullahi Sale as its representatives in the Committee.
However, a labour leader who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, after the inauguration, said government has to look beyond the N500billion as the sharing formula has already been completed.
“Government should think of other palliatives” he said adding that this would be the crux of the matter when next the committee meets.