To avert another strike over the minimum wage consequential adjustment stalled talks, the federal government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday met in Abuja where the former appealed to the workers to show understanding on the matter.
The meeting was attended by the minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige and NLC president, Mr. Ayuba Wabba.
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) had threatened to embark on a strike following the breakdown in negotiation on the consequential adjustment on the N30,000 National Minimum Wage.
Ngige said that the government was not averse to the plight of workers but was being careful not to go beyond its financial capacity.
He said: "The government is not averse to doing the needful. What we are saying is that we should try for all the parties to agree that the economy has some issues and therefore we have to cut our coat according to our size. That is the important thing."
The minister said that progress had been made in the minimum wage implementation process, pointing to the fact that workers between levels 1 to 6 have started benefiting from it.
He said: "I do not want to say they didn't make progress, they made progress. At least from levels 1 to 6, they got something. By the time we were coming back, we saw that they were making progress. Unfortunately, the head of service, who was the chair of that committee had to go on compulsory leave, and it is not easy when some other person is on acting capacity. Before I came to this meeting, I had to reach the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), because the logical thing for us to do which government has agreed is to reconstitute our representation. They handed over to us from where ever they stopped.
"Luckily, the president has also put in place a new council called Presidential Committee on Salaries and Allowances. The former head of service reported to us on where they have progressed to," Ngige said
The minister, however, expressed optimism that negotiation would resume soon and the consequential adjustment would be quickly resolved.
"When we come back, we will involve the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the NLC, so that we can have a speedy movement. It is unfortunate that the negotiation is deadlocked on others on levels seven to 17," he said, adding that the government was concerned on the unpaid wages that may accrue from the delay in implementation of the new adjustment in the new wage.
Earlier, Wabba said that both the NLC, TUC had received a report from the JNPSNC informing them that negotiation had broken down.
He said that the NLC would meet with the JNPSNC today to agree on the way forward.
Wabba said that the workers were concerned over the continuous delay in reaching an agreement on the consequential adjustment on the national minimum wage
He said: "Two days ago, the NLC and TUC received a formal report from the JNPSNC informing us that negotiation has brokendown and that they want our intervention. And part of the intervention we can make is to use the opportunity of this meeting to try to see how this issue can be sorted out."