Government and Labour continue wage talks on Thursday

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja


The meeting between the Nigerian Government and organised Labour on the impasse in the implementation of the new National Minimum wage of 30,000 naira to some cadre of staff in the Federal Civil Service ended in the early hours of Thursday without an agreement.

The meeting which lasted for more than nine hours rather produced two committees of both parties to look critically at some grey areas and report back to it later this Thursday and announced that the general house would reconvene by 7pm local time same day.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige who is leading the government delegation addressed the media after the meeting.

Agreement Reached
He said that agreements had been reached on so many areas but for a clean job to be done, the committees set up had to be given time to carry out their assignment.

“Finally, we agreed on so many areas, which hitherto we did not go into agree on, and we’re adjourning the meeting, we’re giving assignment to some people on both sides and they will  go and do the work and get back to us.

“The work is enormous so, we’re giving them the entire day to get back to us issues of money and wage adjustment as per different wage structures we have in the country we don’t want to make mistakes that could be fatal and thereby putting the whole exercise we’ve done in jeopardy.

 “Therefore we’ve concentually agreed that we’ll reconvene this meeting at 7pm today, like i said earlier,  those that were given assignment to complete their assignment and bring them back to us”, Ngige said.

Industrial Peace
He assured Nigerians that there was no need for ant panic concerning the issues at stake as all was being done to maintain industrial peace.

“Meeting has been moving on smoothly, as you can see from here there is progress, it is very cordial, nobody is fighting”,  he said.

Also speaking, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Ayuba Wabba who led the workers delegation to the meeting, called on workers to go about their duties peacefully as the leadership of the unions is doing it best to get them a fare deal.

He said that some committees need to do some compilation, “you can see that they have worked up to the early hours of today, that is, in the true spirit of collective bargaining is give and take and that is what we’re trying to do and ensure that we get the process concluded”.

On whether Nigerians should stay at home Wabba said that the adjournment of the meeting was to give room for the proper things to be done, that it was not in the practice of labour to interrupt a collective bargaining still in progress.

“Our practice is that until we’re able to conclude the issues and that we’re able to inform them appropriately but not mid way when there is no date that we’re making progress to say that we should abruptly disrupt the process of collective bargaining.

 “For now, we’ve adjourned to reconvene by 7pm today, therefore progress is being made and at the appropriate time we should be able to give the details”, Wabba said.

Resume Negotiations
He said that the ultimatum of 16th of October, given to government was to convene resume negotiations and not for strike action.

“Yes certainly, the 16 is to convene a meeting and address the issues. If we’re already at the table trying to sort out the issue, every dispute would actually be concluded on a round table and that’s what we’re trying to do.

 “We’ve made progress in many areas, the areas we’re talking is that of implementation and the consequential adjustment, that is the only subject matter that is under consideration and that is the subject matter we’re trying to conclude and ensure that there is an agreement and then we can share with you”, the NLC President said.

Wednesday’s meeting was an enlarged one on the side of Labour, with the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, President of the Trade Union Congress, Quadri Olaleye, former TUC President, Bobboi Kaigama, and heads of affiliate workers unions Present.

When the meeting reconvenes by 7pm on Thursday, the hope by both parties is that an agreement would finally be reached so that all workers in the Federal Civil Service in the country would start enjoying the new wage.


Confidence Okwuchi