Nigeria: Minimum Wage Talks - Labour Seeks Buhari's Intervention to End Deadlock

(file photo).
15 August 2019

Abuja — The federal government's committee on the negotiating of consequential adjustments for the new minimum wage and the Joint National Public Sector Services Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), have agreed to approach President Muhammadu Buhari to help broker a deal on the issues in dispute.

At the resumed negotiation of the minimum wage consequential adjustment committee held yesterday in Abuja, the federal government's team and the Joint National Public Sector Services Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) failed to reach any compromise on the issues in dispute.

One of the labour leaders who spoke to THISDAY but would not want his name mentioned, said the meeting again ended in deadlock.

He said that labour representatives told the government's team to present proposals of both sides to President Buhari, adding that whatever he decides will be the subject of next meeting fixed for Tuesday next week.

He however said that unlike previous talks, both sides had agreed to go for further consultation on how to achieve a consensus deal at the next meeting.

One major outcome of wednesday's talks was that both the government's team and leadership of JNPSNC accepted to work out a compromise position at the next week's sitting, which will resolve the lingering differences over the template that will be used for the consequential adjustment of workers' salaries.

The source said the committee and the labour resolved that both sides should go back for further consultations so that by Tuesday the negotiating team will be in a position to take more decisive position that may bring the talks to an end.

The leader of the federal government's team and Chairman of the Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Mr. Richard Egbule, had explained government's position saying, "the computation based on percentage which government had given to labour, was 9.5 per cent from level seven to 14, including level 1-6 of those salary structures that did not benefit from the minimum wage.

"And then five per cent from level 15 to 17. Labour countered the offer and proposed 30 per cent increase for level seven to 14 and 25 per cent for level 15 to17."

Egbule argued that applying the 25 percentage being demanded by labour will be unfair because it gives the person earning minimum wage only N12, 000, while a level 17 officer will get almost N100,000.

He said that if the union wanted consequential adjustments in percentage terms, government will use a percentage that will not exceed what has been provided for in the budget.

According to Egbule, the federal government has proposed a 10 per cent increment for level seven to 14 and a 5.5 per cent increase for level 15 to 17.

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