Nigerian government, Labour talk to reconvene on Wednesday

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja

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The meeting between the Nigerian Government and organized labour on the consequential adjustment of the new National Minimum Wage of 30,000 naira, ended on Tuesday in Abuja without a definite agreement.

The two groups have however agreed to reconvene today Wednesday by 2 pm local time, with high hopes that a truce would be reached after Wednesday’s meeting.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on 18th April 2019, signed a new National Minimum Wage of 30,000 Naira into law, but six months on, only workers on Grade Levels one to six have started enjoying the new wage while consequential adjustments for staff on Grade Level seven to seventeen is being negotiated.

The meeting on Tuesday which started around 2:30pm lasted till 8:30pm.

Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress who led workers’ side of the negotiating team, Comrade Amaechi Asugwuni  said both parties would meet Wednesday for  a final decision.

“Negotiation is still ongoing even though we actually thought negotiations will be concluded today but we can’t predict the negotiations, therefore adjournment became necessary….

 “Tomorrow we will meet by two and that meeting will also determines the fate of  everything but we expect that we will close that meeting positively”,  he said.

According to the Acting Head of the Civil service of the Federation,  Folashade Yemi Esan , the two groups have worked hard to ensure that the final outcome of the negotiation would put a smile on the faces of both workers and the government.

“We’ve worked very well together today and both sides have made a lot of concession.

 “So far commitment has been shown but we believe that the areas that are still in context are critical, therefore government can urge also on their part to see how they can shift ground positively in order to mitigate the agitation ahead.

“We’ve had a very peaceful engagement, so far the labour side has discovered that there is just one side of the welfare of workers and both sides made a lot of concessions but we discovered that there are some grey areas that need to be ironed out.

“Some documents and information are being sorted out which we are providing and by the Grace of God tomorrow,  discussions will continue and we believe that we will be able to get everything resolved”,  the Acting Head of the Civil Service said.

Meanwhile, the United Labour Congress ULC, has made it clear that it will not be a party to any industrial action declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress NLC and the Trade Union Congress TUC, the two labour centres in Nigeria.

The ULC is a third labour centre still battling to be recgnised and registered by the government in line with the law.

 

A statement released earlier on Tuesday as labour was meeting with government and signed by its President Joe Ajaero, the ULC said, that the proposed nation-wide strike was designed to fail or at best watered down to achieve nothing but to bring few Nigerian workers on the street to dance and wave flags without shutting down the economy which is the effect a nation-wide strike ought to have.

 

He said that markets will be open, road, maritime and air transports will work, filling stations and depots will operate, banks will work and generally, the economy will go about its business as if nothing has happened so insisting that such action will have no effect.

 

“we will not therefore be part of an exercise designed to hoodwink Nigerian workers and masses into believing that their interests were being championed while the contrary may be the case.

 

“We will not be part of this ruse neither will we partake in a complete jamboree that makes a mockery of the genuine struggle by Nigerian workers to begin to enjoy the new national minimum wage.

 

“Once again, we want to state that we will not be part of this attempt to whittle down the capacity of Nigerian workers and masses to earn the new minimum wage”, Ajaero said.

 

He said that the planned action alienated critical national stakeholders who would have insisted in organizing an effective nation-wide strike, saying that the action is intended to achieve only one purpose – “the failure of the strike”.

 

“Once again, we call on the federal government to show more responsibility towards the immediate implementation of the new national minimum wage.

 

“We shall join hands with all willing parties to ensure that the minimum wage becomes a reality – in the hands of Nigerian workers. We shall mobilise and organize better for a more successful and focused struggle that would ensure that our collective will is pursued and protected”, the statement said.

 

Fillers from the meeting indicate  that the government step up from 11 percent for Grade Levels 07 to 14 and 6.5 percent for Grade Levels 15 to 17 to a new offer of 17 percent for Grade Levels 07 to 09, 15 percent for workers on Grade Levels 10 to 14 and 12 percent for staff on  Grade Levels 15 to 17.

Also, the Labour team shifted ground from 29 percent to 25 for workers on Grade Levels 07 to 14 and 24 percent to 20 percent for workers on Grade Levels 15 to 17.