Return to the negotiating table without delay- Labour

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja


The Federal government has been urged to immediately reconvene the meeting of the Technical Committee on Consequential Adjustment of the new National Minimum wage.

The call was contained in a two-point communiqué issued in Abuja on Tuesday, at the end of the meeting of the National Leadership of the Trade Union Side of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council TUS, and Chairmen and Secretaries of TUS in the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory.

The Call it said, became necessary to conclude the negotiation so that workers will begin to enjoy the new wage of 30,000 naira which has already been signed into law by the Nigerian President.

The Communiqué signed by the  Acting Chairman and Secretary of the trade union side of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, JNPSNC, Comrades Anchaver Simon and Alade Bashir Lawal reads; “…the federal government should reconvene the meeting of the Technical Committee on Consequential Adjustment immediately so that it can conclude its deliberations and ensure that all public service employees benefit adequately from the 30,000 naira new monthly National Minimum Wage signed into law by Mr President since April, 2019.

“That it has commenced mobilization and sensitization of the public service employees in the entire 36 States of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to prepare them for total Trade Union actions in the event that negotiation on the consequential adjustment arising from the 30, 000naira monthly new National Minimum Wage completely breaks down.”

The Unions disclosed that it has started mobilizing its members to down tools if it becomes necessary alleging that the government side had introduced a strange clause to the discussion which has stalemated negotiations.

Addressing the Media after their meeting, the Acting Chairman, Comrade Anchaver Simon said that following the signing of the new wage into law, the federal government inaugurated the Relativity/Consequential Adjustment Committee which in turn set up a Technical Sub-Committee to work out the template for the adjustment of salaries of public employees in line with the new minimum wage in other to ensure that all workers benefit from the new wage regime.

According to him, “when the Technical Committee started to meet, the Trade Union side (TUS) proposed upward salary adjustment of 66.6% across board in order to maintain existing relativity in the emoluments of public servants, bearing in mind that the actual increase in minimum wage is 66.6%.

“The government side argued that if 66.6% was added across board to the salaries of public servants, the wage bill will be too high for government to bear,” he said.

He said that the trade union side had to review its demand downward because government promised to undertake a general salary review in no distant future.

“Labour then maintained that 30% increase should be effected in the salaries of Officers on levels 07-14 and 25% to salary of officers on grade level 15-17.

“On its part, the government side insisted that 9.5% for those on grade levels 15-17 was the ideal.

“Both parties agreed to capture the two positions in its report to the plenary session of the larger consequential adjustment committee for further discussion. “Surprisingly, when the Technical Sub-Committee reconvened, the government side introduced a strange clause to the discussion insisting that the term of reference of the Committee was to work out the consequential adjustment of salaries of public servants based on the subhead provided for salaries in the 2019 budget.

 “All efforts by the trade union side to persuade the government side to return to the right track of negotiation and agree on a realistic percentage increase proved abortive.

“Thus, the government side deliberately created a stalemate and thereafter adjoined the meeting of the technical committee sine die,” Simon said.

However, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba said that the Congress has not issued any strike notice over the implementation of the new national minimum wage by the government.

Wabba told Voice of Nigeria in Abuja that discussion over the implementation of the minimum wage and the consequential adjustment was going on smoothly, pointing out that when the time comes for a strike ultimatum, Nigerians with be informed accordingly.

According to him: “Our own case is going on well. We met with our unions yesterday.

“The difference right now is about the consequential increase and we hope that through a normal process of dialogue, we will be able to sought that out.”

On the strike alert already issued, Wabba said: “No, we don’t work with that please. NLC, is an organised body.

“I am not sure we have given any notice to that effect. If we reach a point of issuing threats, we will do that without hesitation.

“But I have seen many information on the social media. We are a credible organisation and we should be able to speak for ourselves.

“If we get to that point, we will be able to inform you. But for now, the process is going on and we have been able to expand the scope of dialogue to include NLC/TUC and only limited to the unions in the public sector,” the NLC President said.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Office of the Executive Chairman, Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Dr Richard Egbule, said that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate implementation of the new national minimum wage in the federal public service.

The statement signed by the Executive Chairman himself said, “the negotiations between the federal government of Nigeria and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council on the Consequential Adjustment arising from the new national minimum wage for Officers who earned salaries above 30,000 naira per month before 18th April 2019 in the federal Public Service will continue.

“The outcome of such negotiations will be implemented with effect from the date an agreement is reached,” Egbule said.