The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has again emphasized that Nigeria cannot afford rounds of labour crisis, hence the imperative for Organized Labour to accept a new National Minimum Wage figure based on the capacity and the ability of both the government and the private sector to pay in line with social dialogue and the overall interest of the nation.
Ngige gave the charge when he received on a courtesy visit the new Director General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Timothy Olawale, and his predecessor, Olusegun Oshinowo.
He appealed to NECA to weigh its influence on the Organized Labour to accede to the new National Minimum Wage figure mutually agreeable to all the social partners.
He said: “We need to arrive at a figure which the employers can afford to pay as an employee cannot fix a figure for the employer.
“Rather, it must be based on collective bargaining and mutual agreement by the tripartite partners.
“It is not a function of moving motions or voting at the National Tripartite Negotiation committee to insist that the figure must be as the Organized Labour appears to make it look.
“There is absolutely therefore no need to heat up the polity.
“The government’s proposed new Minimum Wage figure is clearly based on critical facts and indices incapable of causing disequilibrium in the economy or upturning the national social order.”
Ngige further charged the new NECA boss to exceed the impressive record of his predecessor.
He said: “You have enormous task ahead of you.
“The need for the establishment of more NECA offices across the country cannot be over emphasized so that more employers association can register with you.
“This is in line with the focus of our labour administration as well as in tandem with the economic policies of the present administration.
“The numerous private sector employers who are informal need to be brought on board the formalized private sector employers’ body.”
The Minister urged Olawale to ensure that numerous private sector employers who are members of NECA as well as those not yet registered but are defaulting in payment of even the existing National Minimum Wage of N18,000 are made to comply with the law.
Ngige also commended the efforts of Oshinowo for contributing immensely to industrial peace and harmony in the private sector and ensuring that Nigeria was brought back to the Governing Board of the International Labour Organisation employer section.
Speaking earlier, Oshinowo said Olawale was the best man to take over the mantle of leadership, noting that since the formation of the Association, a DG was for the first time sourced from the organization.
He further commended the Minister for his open door policy despite opposing positions they have had to take on issues in the past.
In his remarks, the new DG thanked the Minister for the privilege of the courtesy visit and promised to match up the feat of his predecessor.