Nigeria: Govt, Workers Head for Showdown Over New Minimum Wage

(file photo).

In the event of a breakdown of the ongoing negations on the consequential adjustment arising from the N30,000 monthly new national minimum wage, the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council and the eight unions in the public service has directed their members to be prepared for a showdown with the federal government.

The unions said yesterday in Abuja that they have commenced the mobilisation and sensitisation of workers in the public service sector for a total showdown with government if the negotiation was poorly handled.

In a communiqué issued in Abuja at after a meeting of the JPSNC, the workers said that while the government has insisted on 9.5 per cent salary adjustment for officers on grade levels 07-14 and five per cent for those on grade levels 15-17, labour wants 30 per cent for officers on grade levels 07-14 and 25 per cent for officers on grade levels 15-17.

The communiqué was signed by the unions' acting chairman, Comrade Achaver Simon and secretary, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal.

JNPSNC said that the workers had initially demanded for 66.66 per cent increment but had to review their demand downward after the government complained of lack of resources.

The workers said that following the stalemate, negotiations for the consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage had been suspended. They, however, urged the government to immediately reconvene the committee.

Simon said: "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 the 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."

The workers, who defended their position, said that labour believed that their "demand is very much reductive bearing in mind new salary adjustment approved for some agencies of government whereby salary GL 01 step 1 officer will be going home with about N150,000/month.

The communiqué reads: "The trade union side of JNPSNC has now resolved that 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 N30,000 new monthly national minimum wage signed into law by Mr. President since April 2019.

"That it has commenced mobilisation and sensitisation of public service employees in the entire 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to prepare them for total trade union actions in the event that negotiation on the consequential adjustment arising from the N30,000 monthly new national minimum wage completely breaks down."

In his reaction, the executive chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Richard Egbule, said that what labour is asking for was "not possible."

According to him, the government had wanted to do a N10,000 increment across board as part of the consequential adjustment for the new minimum wage, but labour insisted on percentage increment.

He said that if the government yielded to the 30 per cent increment being asked by labour, some workers at the higher rung of the table will get an increment of up to N100,000 just because N12,000 (from N18,000 to N30,000) was added for workers at the lowest rung.

The president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said that the organisation had not issued any strike notice over the implementation of the new wage by the government.

Wabba said: "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 by the workers, Wabba replied "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 a lot of 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," he said.

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