Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed and the Head of Service, Dr Folashade Yemi-Essan and the labour leaders on Wednesday met at the Ministry in Abuja to resolve the controversy over the consequential adjustment for senior government workers.
The Federal Government and organised labour have concluded the issue of the new minimum wage which culminated in signing into law the new wage of N30,000, but there has been disagreement between the federal government and workers on consequential movement in the payment of the new wage for workers in GL 7-17.
The Federal Government had told the labour union that it could only pay 9.5 per cent salary adjustment for employees on Grade Levels 07-14, and five per cent for those on Grade Levels 15-17.
But the labour union is demanding 30 per cent for officers on Grade Levels 07-14, and 25 per cent for those on Grade Levels 15-1
The Minister of Labour while speaking recently when the United Labour Congress, ULC, led by its President, Comrade Joe Ajaero stated that "Government has done their own homework and brought out what they can use to defend this consequential adjustment. Grade 1 to 6 does not have any problem, but 7 to 17 is where we have the problem.
"Once you finish a minimum wage and go into consequential adjustment you are trying to reach a collective bargaining agreement and once you are trying to reach that the principle of ability to pay comes in.
"So if you push the government to go and accede to an increment which its resources cannot accommodate, you are indirectly asking them to retrench workers so that the few that are remaining will get this big money.
"We don't want that, from 2015 the president has made it clear that he is not out to inflict pains on Nigerians and that he does not want to create unemployment but even at that our increase in population is galloping and our resources are not consequentially increasing to meet up that is why we have a lot of unemployed youths on the street today.
"We need to arrive at an agreement as soon as possible so that we can use the 2019 budget allocation to de-frame this consequential adjustment because it will be bad if we are unable to do it and we finish this financial year by December because the budget circle is going to return to January/December 2020 so we have three months only before this recurrent funds as well are swept back into government treasury, that is the law."
Although the outcome of the meeting between the Minister and labour leaders including the Joint Negotiation Council Chairman at the instance of the government was not made public, Vanguard reliably gathered that another meeting had been fixed for next week.
A source that was privy to the meeting said that the report that labour threatened to embark on strike over minimum wage was not correct, adding that both labour and government have passed the stage of minimum wage and we're only discussing the consequential adjustment.
The source also said that the meeting at the Minister's office was supposed to be informal consultation and that discussions at the meeting were fruitful.
"The discussions were fruitful. It was on how to resolve the issue on consequential adjustment. It was a consultative meeting. We have agreed to put everything behind us and we will be meeting early next week.
"We are not renegotiation the minimum wage as reported in some quarters. The federal government is discussing with its workers on how to do consequential adjustment in their system.
"What we are talking about is a consequential adjustment, not minimum wage and government has a structure, a platform on which it discusses with its workers," the source said.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Ministry of Labour and Employment stated that the Minister met separately with the members of Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council; the leadership of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC to resolve the impasse over the consequential adjustment of the National Minimum Wage.
A statement signed by Charles Akpan, Deputy Director, Press, said that "it was resolved that each group would hold further meetings to sort out all outstanding disagreements before a high-level conclusive meeting to wrap up all discussions, paving the way for an equable implementation of the Consequential Adjustment of the Minimum Wage scheduled for Tuesday, 15th October 2019."
Those in attendance were the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, Minister of State, Finance, Budget and Planning, Clement Agba, Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo and the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi- Esan.
Others were the 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.