- Pay adjustments for the military, paramilitary personnel done
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Palpable delight has greeted the agreement reached on Thursday night between the federal government and organised labour on the minimum wage, leading to an announcement of its immediate implementation by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
After long hours of negotiations for three consecutive days, the federal government and the labour unions finally signed an agreement in the early hours of yesterday on the consequential adjustments of N30,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
The full payment of the minimum wage should start immediately by government and all employers of labour, the minister said shortly after the federal government’s team signed the agreement with labour, adding that wage adjustments for the military and paramilitary personnel had been completed and would be communicated to them through the appropriate channel.
The minister said the federal government would make available the template for consequential adjustment to the various states to guide them in reaching similar agreement at the state and local government levels.
On its part, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) described the agreement as victory for collective bargaining.
The NLC President, Ayuba Waba, said it was a decision reached after a “collective bargaining”. He added that both parties are “committed to the implementation without further delay”.
He noted that the guidelines would be transmitted to all the state councils of the NLC to work in harmony with the national body for the implementation.
Also speaking to reporters after the signing, acting Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, expressed satisfaction with the agreement.
She said: “It was a collective decision; we had a conducive environment and arrived at the agreement. I think it is good that government and labour can actually sit together in a constructive manner
“The implementation will start immediately. We will definitely work the arrears out but that is not something that we can tell for now. The important thing is that we have an agreement and we will start the payment as soon as we work out the proper sums.”
Earlier, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), in a statement jointly signed by its President, Quadri Olaleye and General Secretary, Musa Lawal Ozigi, expressed satisfaction at the conclusion of the agreement. The TUC leaders commended the federal government and organised labour for their patience while the negotiations lasted.
They noted that although it was a rough road, the TUC was happy that the agreement was finally signed.
They commended the government’s team for their wisdom and sincerity. “We commend the Head of Service of the federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan and her team for their sincerity. Though they argued that government cannot afford to meet our earlier demand of N30, 000 minimum wage across board because of the economic situation in the country, but we made them understand that some people cannot be more Nigerian than others. If we are tightening our belts, government should also do so,” they said.
The TUC leaders said that as an organisation and a major stakeholder in the Nigerian project, they believed that the parties had done well.
“We shifted grounds and that is why we were able to resolve things without major injuries. It is a win win situation,” the TUC leaders added.
Ngige, who read a communique signed by the stakeholders at the end of the meeting at about 3:00 AM yesterday, said by the agreement reached, core civil servants (CONPSS), grade level 7 will get 23.2%, grade level 8 (20%), grade level 9 (19%) grade levels 10-14 (16%), while workers on grade levels 15-17 will have an increase of 14%.
For the second group; on salary structures – CONHESS, CONRAISS, CONTISS ll and others; grade level 7 will have an increase of 23.2%, grade 8-14 will earn 16% and grade levels 15-17 are to have an increase of 10.5 %.
The minister restated that enforcement of payment of the minimum wage signed into law on April 18, 2019, by President Muhammadu Buhari, would begin immediately and tasked all stakeholders to comply with the new minimum wage.
“The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment through our inspectors in the field, the National Salaries and Income and Wages Commission will have the right to help in the enforcement. The labour unions themselves can approach the National Industrial Court on the matter, so we expect every employer of labour to start payment immediately,” Ngige said.
Among those in attendance at the meeting were Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; acting Chairman of the National Salaries and Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta; General Secretary of NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaja; acting Chairman of Joint Public Service Negotiation Council, JNPSNC (Trade Union Side), Simon Anchaver; members of the National Assembly Service Commission; members of the National Judicial Service Commission, and a representative of the Accountant General of the Federation.