Samuel Itsede Abuja
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige met separately with the members of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council; the leadership of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria(TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) over the impasse arising from the consequential adjustment of the National Minimum Wage.
While the meeting with the Labour commenced by 11:30 and ended 2pm, that with the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council lasted for several hours.
Sources privy to the meeting, said they resolved that each group would hold further meetings to sort out all outstanding disagreements before a high level conclusive meeting will be held to wrap up all discussions.
It is believed that the meeting will pave the way for an equable implementation of the Consequential Adjustment of the Minimum Wage.
The final meeting where a resolution would be taken may hold on Tuesday, 15th October, 2019.
Among those in attendance were Hon. Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, Hon. Minister of State, Finance, Budget and Planning, Clement Agba, Hon. Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo(SAN) Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi- Esan, Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, Acting Chairman, National Salaries Income and Wages Commission Ekpo Nta and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
Also present were Deputy President NLC, Comrade Amaechi Asogwuni, the General Secretary of the NLC, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, Comrade Achaver Simon as well as the representatives of the Trade Union Congress(TUC) standing in for the Labour .
Recall that Ngige while meeting with the leadership of the yet to be registered United Labour Congress, last week, had stated that an additional N580billion would be required by the federal government to implement the new wage system.
He had also stated that government was at a loss where to source such funds from, stressing that Labour cannot afford to embark on strike after they must have been exposed to government’s financial records.
Recall that labour leaders on October 7th 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.
Secretary-General of the JNPSNC, Alade Lawal, told a meeting of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria in Abuja that workers had started mobilising for a strike.
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.
“You have a salary structure, you have a ratio between the minimum and the maximum. When the minimum was 18,000, you have what you have at the maximum, then you have tilted the minimum to 30,000, are you going to leave the table there?
“It is distortion. You don’t allow distortion and it’s not allowed anywhere in the world. That is why you do consequential adjustment,’’ he argued.
Lawal pointed out that organised labour was not opposed to discussion, consultations or anything.
He said that what was worrisome was the delay in reconvening the meeting of the committee on consequential adjustment.
“In the communiqué, issued last week by TUC, NLC and the Joint Council, we were asking the government to reconvene the committee and within one week, let the committee complete its assignment.
“As Labour, we are not averse to discussion, consultations or anything. But they are yet to reconvene the main meeting of the committee.
“What I am saying is that the minister is free to call us. We will go. We are hoping that maybe he wants to use it to talk to the two sides before reconvening the meeting.
“What I am saying is that you can’t sign an agreement in an informal meeting until you reconvene the meeting of the committee handling the negotiation on consequential adjustment”.