The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has warned state governors against reducing workers’ salaries and also the hours of work of workers.
This was contained in a statement issued by Mr. Samuel Olowokere, Deputy Director Press in the ministry. In the statement, Dr. Ngige said the warning was necessary to restore industrial harmony and forestall breakdown of law and order.
He said the warning followed protracted industrial crisis involving the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nasarawa State Government over workers’ salaries.
The minister said the step was pursuant to the powers invested on him by section 5(1) and (2) of the Trade Dispute Act, Laws of Nigeria, 2004.
He said this was also predicated on a letter to the him by Gov. Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State for labour conciliation by the ministry.
The Minister said all parties had been invited for a crucial meeting on Wednesday by 2 pm at the Ministry of Labour but before the meeting is held, he advised all parties to: “maintain the status quo ante pending the outcome of the meeting intended to resolve the issues in dispute”.
And to avoid further escalation of disputes of this type all over the states of the federation, he directed state governments to always negotiate any issue that touches on the workers’ salaries and wages.
“This is in order to ensure that they obtain a Collective Bargaining Agreement (BCA) before these remunerations are tampered with,” he added.
Dr. Ngige also added that the law of the land must be respected by all in both public and private institutions.
He, however, stressed that the issue of arbitrary reduction in the hours of work was against the International Labour Organisation (ILO) regulation; Convention 1, which had been adopted and domesticated by Nigeria, adding that the law prescribes eight hours of work in a day and not more than 40 hours in a week.
Ngige added that the caution had become necessary to draw the attention of all concerned to these issues in order to avoid unnecessary industrial relations disputes that could be averted through proactive dialogue.