Minimum Wage: Again, FG, labour meet to resolve issues

Chris Ngige. [PHOTO CREDIT: Sahara Reporters]
Chris Ngige. [PHOTO CREDIT: Sahara Reporters]

The Federal Government on Wednesday met organised labour leaders at the Ministry of Labour over pending issues on the new minimum wage implementation.

This meeting was a sequel to the union’s threat to stage an industrial action if the FG refuses to accept its demand on the new minimum wage implementation by October 16.

The union also insisted that the government must hold a final meeting on October 15.

The meeting is the latest in a series of meetings with labour leaders, aimed at commencing the payment of the consequential adjustment in the new minimum wage, signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari since April 18.

The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) participated in the meeting with the labour minister, Chris Ngige.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how labour leaders issued a communiqué, warning that economic activities would be shut down on October 16 if the Federal Government failed to reconvene a meeting of the committee on consequential adjustments.

The General Secretary of Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Alade Lawal, said during a meeting of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria at a separate location in Abuja that mobilisation of workers for a possible industrial action after October 16, 2019, had reached an advanced stage.

He said the partial implementation of the minimum wage for levels one to six was a ‘divide and rule’ system that would be vehemently opposed by labour.

“As far as I am concerned, nothing has been implemented. What are they implementing? We are negotiating something and somebody went behind to start issuing one circular. As far as we are concerned, nothing has been done and if you want to look at it, levels one to three has been out-sourced.

”How many people are there? So when you even look at the circular, it is full of errors. As far as we are concerned, no circular has been issued.”

Mr Lawal said organised labour was not opposed to discussion, consultations ”or anything to resolve the minimum wage issues”.

He also said the delay in reconvening the meeting of the committee on the consequential adjustment is worrisome.

Wednesday’s meeting

A statement signed by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, on Wednesday said Mr Ngige, presided over the meeting.

The statement said the government team met members of JNPSNC and organised labour separately.

“It was resolved that each group would hold further meetings to sort out all outstanding disagreements before a high level conclusive meeting to wrap up all discussions, paving the way for an equable implementation of the Consequential Adjustment of the Minimum Wage scheduled for Tuesday, October 15, 2019,” the statement said.

However, an official source who pleaded anonymity for fear of victimisation said the meeting was called to douse the tension created by the notice given by the workers union on possible strike action.

“The purpose is to address the threat of labour and how the FG and labour can reach an amicable solution over the new minimum wage of N30,000. It is a closed-door meeting so only the government representatives and the union leaders are involved.”

President Buhari signed a new minimum wage into law in April 2019 but its implementation has been stalled over disagreements between the unions and government representatives.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the implementation of the new wage has remained a problem, arising from the issue of relativity and consequential adjustments.
On May 14, the Federal Government inaugurated the relativity and consequential adjustment committee, which in turn set up a technical sub-committee to work out a template for the adjustment of salaries of public service employees.

However, the government and labour have failed to reach an agreement for more than six months after the law was signed.

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