Labour Issues FG Seven-day Ultimatum to Conclude Action on Minimum Wage

Ayuba Wabba

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union (TUC) have given the federal government till next week Wednesday to reconvene and conclude negotiation on consequential adjustment for the new minimum wage.

In a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting between NLC, TUC and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC-Trade Union Side) in Abuja wednesday, the labour movement rejected the offer by the government for salary adjustment of 11 percent for public workers on salary grade level 07 to 14 and 6.5 percent consequential increase for public workers on grade level 15 to 17.

It said the government is not realistic and therefore not acceptable to the workers.

According to the unions’ leadership, “We demand the reconvening of the meeting of the committee negotiating the consequential adjustment with a view to concluding the process that started on May 28, 2019, within one week.”

In the communiqué, organised labour tried to give credence to its demand for enhanced pay by reeling out economic indices which it said has watered down workers’ pay package since the previous N18,000 minimum wage was implemented.

The communiqué was jointly signed by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; TUC President, Quadri Olaleye, and JNPSNC Chairman, Simon Anchaver, and Secretary, Slade Bashir Lawal.

Labour said since the last national minimum wage of N18, 000, workers have been forced to suffer huge inflation and astronomical hike in the prices of essential goods and services.

Furthermore it said petroleum price has been hiked from N87 per litre to N145 per litre translating 60 percent price increase. Also, it said electricity tariff has been increased by 60 percent while Value Added Tax (VAT) has recently increased from 5 percent to 7.2 per cent. The organised labour blamed the government negotiating team for its alleged insensitivity to the sacrifices being made by Nigerian workers, adding that such uncooperative attitude had led to the delay in reaching a deal on the implementation of the minimum wage.

Organised labour said that it has out of its patriotic disposition demonstrated a great deal of restraint, consideration and patience with government.

“In the course of negotiations for consequential salary adjustment, organised labour had to moderate its initial position of having 66.6 per cent upward salary adjustment for workers on salary grade level 07-17 by accepting an upward adjustment of 29 per cent for officers on salary level 07-14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers on salary grade level 15–17. Despite this patriotic gesture, government has kept insisting that it can only pay 11per cent for officers on grade level 07-14 and 6.5 per cent consequential wage increase to public workers for officers on level 15-17,” it said

Labour argued that the country’s currency, the naira, had suffered devaluation from N150 to $1 in 2011 to N360 to $1 in 2019, a depreciation of 140 per cent.

Responding to the one week ultimatum issued by the leadership of the organised labour, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, promised that federal government would restart negotiations on the minimum wage consequential adjustment.

Ngige, who spoke to THISDAY on telephone last night, said though ministries are presently busy with matters relating to 2020 Appropriation, he was optimistic that a meeting of minimum wage committee would be summoned to deal with the latest issue raised by labour.

He said: “The Secretary to the Government of the Federation will do something about that and government team will meet the labour soon.”