Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Joint Committee on Consequential Adjustments on the new minimum wage to move swiftly with negotiations and avoid further delay on the matter.
As part of measures to ensure that the federal government is no longer taken off-guard on the issues of salaries and wages adjustments, the President said his administration would put in place a Presidential Committee on Salaries and Allowances that would be able to take requests after the committee on consequential adjustment has concluded its assignment.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, yesterday when he received the leadership of the Association of Labour Correspondents in his office in Abuja.
The minister hinted of the federal government’s plans to create jobs and empower the middle income earners, but blamed the unemployment rate on the upsurge in Boko Haram and banditry attacks and social agitations by some groups. Ngige said the President is very worried about the delay in the commencement of payment of the N30,000 new minimum wage and has instructed through his Chief of Staff that a deadline be set to end the ongoing negotiations.
“It is the determination of the President and this administration to fast track the negotiation on consequential adjustment. I have just received a correspondence from the Chief of Staff to the President and we are putting a deadline to that negotiation. We are fast tracking it because the government will also want to put in place a Presidential Committee on Salaries and Allowances that will be able to take requests after this consequential adjustment,” he said.
The Joint Committee on the Consequential Adjustments that was set up shortly after the signing of the new minimum wage bill into law by the president on April 18 has failed to reach an agreement with the representatives of unions in the public sector.
Several meetings on the matter have ended in deadlock with both government’s negotiating team and labour representatives disagreeing on the percentage increase workers at each level are expected
However, THISDAY gathered that after several weeks of deadlock, both sides resolved to seek the intervention of the President to help end the protracted negotiation.
It was learnt that the government’s team has made a fresh a proposal to adjust salaries of workers on grade levels 2-7 by 25 per cent and 8-17 by 10 per cent.
Ngige, who linked the spate of banditry attacks across the country and agitation by groups to unemployment and joblessness, said the federal government is determined to address this, adding that the President is committed to recreating the middle class in Nigeria.