Abuja — After a protracted negotiation, which lasted till 2.05 a.m this morning, the federal government made a new offer to the organised labour to avert industrial action by the workers.
The government had on Tuesday shifted ground on its proposal for minimum wage consequential adjustment from 11 per cent to 17 per cent for workers on grade levels 7 to 14, and from 6.5 per cent to 12 per cent for those on grade levels 15 to 17.
But the workers who had insisted on 29 per cent wage increase for workers on grade levels 7 to14 and 24 per cent for those on grade levels 15 to 17, did not accept the new offer
However, the unions shifted ground from 29 per cent to 25 per cent for levels 7 to 14 and from 24 per cent to 20 per cent for levels 15 to 17.
THISDAY gathered that during the negotiation that ended this morning, the government further raised its offer to 20 per cent for workers on grade level 7 to 14 and 13.5 per cent.
Both the government team and the workers did not reveal this new offer to journalists but adjourned negotiation till 7p.m. thursday.
But addressing journalists at the end of the talks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige
said that the two sides had agreed adjourn negotiation to enable a joint committee to work out adjustments for various wage structures
"We broke into committees during the technical session and finally we agreed on areas hitherto we could not agree. We are adjourning the meeting till 7 p.m today. We are giving assignment to people on both sides and they are going to do the work and get back to us.
"The work involved is enormous. We are giving them the entire day to get back to us on issues of money and wage adjustment with different wage structures. We have 12 different wage structures presently in Nigeria. We don't want to make mistakes that would be fatal thereby putting the whole exercise in jeopardy.
"We have consensually agreed that we should reconvene this meeting at 7 p.m today. This will enable those that we gave assignment to complete them and get back to us. We are okay with the meeting moving on smoothly. It is very cordial. We disagreed on various issues but we have agreed," he said.
On his part, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba who joined the negotiations yesterday night told journalists that some progress have been made during the talks.
But Wabba was not specific on what was agreed on; rather he said that details of the agreement will be given later today at the conclusion of negotiation.
"It was a collective bargaining process that has lasted this long. Some progress has been made but we have not been able to conclude and have a collective bargaining agreement.
"Some committees need to do some computation. We have worked up to early hours of today. That is in the true spirit of collective bargaining. That is what we have to do to get the process concluded and conclude the process.
When asked if the labour will still go on strike as planned, he said:
"In collective bargaining, if a meeting is adjourned, you should know that that is not our practice. Our practice is that until we are able to conclude the issues and we are able to inform them (Nigerians) appropriately, but not midway when we are making progress. We cannot abruptly disrupt the process. At the appropriate time we should be able to give details".