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Strike imminent as negotiations continue today

Strike imminent as negotiations continue today

…We believe FG to do the needful – Labour

…We cant’s pay N30,000 – Govs

.Laos ‘technically’ ready to pay above N30,000

OBIORA IFOH, Abuja and UFOMBA UZUEGBU with Agency report

Baring last minute shift in positions held by the Federal Government and leadership of labour unions in the country, the organized labour may Thursday call out its members on an indefinite strike to protest government’s apparent refusal to enforce the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage across board.

The N30,000 minimum wage was signed into law on April 18.

But the implementation of the minimum wage struggle became contentious recently when government announced the payment of workers from grade level one to seven with the caveat that it would negotiate the scale of payment to senior officers.

The negotiations took a turn for the worse Monday when both parties failed to reach an agreement forcing an adjournment of the meet to yesterday.

Many of the state governors under the aegis of Governors Forum have remained adamant in their opposition to the enforcement of the N30,000 minimum wage across all the states of the federation arguing that many of the states lack the financial muscle to pay.

However, the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwao-Olu said “technically” he would pay above N30,000 minimum wage to workers in the state.

The labour leaders came out of the meeting Tuesday to announce that the negotiations with the Federal Government continue on Wednesday, October 16, 2019.

The Federal Government’s delegation led by the Head of Service, Folasade Yemi Ewan, said: “We have a fruitful deliberation, both sides have made concession. There are still some grey areas but by the grace of God everything will be resolved.

Also the Labour delegation led by Comrade Amaechi , stated: “The negotiation is still ongoing and adjournment becomes necessary. We will meet tomorrow (today Wednesday). So far, there are signs of commitment but we believe that government will need to shift ground in order to meet our demands”.

The government was still maintaining its position to offer 11 per cent for workers on grade levels 7-14 and 6.5 per cent for those on grade levels 15-17, while labour remained insistent that it should be 29 per cent for grade 7-14 workers and 24 per cent for 15-17 workers.

Speaking to journalists on the outcome of the Monday meeting, the Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Amechi Asugwuni, said the matter was yet to be resolved.

He said the meeting was a consultative one, which afforded labour the opportunity to present its position to the minister and other officials of government.

He said: “The meeting took into consideration the essential issues about the minimum wage that is still pending. With the consultation, we were able to share information with the Minister of Labour and Employment in order to ensure the success of tomorrow’s (today) meeting.

“We believe that the Federal Government will do the needful because ours is a straight forward proposal. We have made our proposal to the federal government before now and government is to respond. We believe that by tomorrow, we will get the federal government feedback and know the next thing to do.”

He described the meeting as an exploratory one, which would afford both sides to share information and to understand the issues better.

It would be recalled that Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed workers to prepare for strike on Oct. 16 if negotiation breaks down with Federal Government.

In a circular signed by its General Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC said this was a notice in case the proposed negotiations slated for Oct. 15 with the Federal Government broke down.“You will recall that a joint Communiqué was issued by the NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Committee (JNPSNC) stating that two weeks from the date of the said communiqué, industrial harmony could not be guaranteed in the country should an agreement not be reached with the Federal Government on the Consequential Adjustment of Salaries as a result of the New National Minimum Wage of N30,000.

“You are hereby directed to coordinate preparations with TUC and JNPSNC in your States for necessary industrial action should the time expire without an agreement as contained in the circular.’’

The issue of implementation of the new wage has remained a problem, arising from the issue of relativity and consequential adjustments.

On May 14, the Federal Government inaugurated the relativity and consequential adjustment committee, which in turn set up a technical sub-committee to work out a template for the adjustment of salaries of public service employees.

However, government and labour have failed to reach an agreement over relativity and consequential adjustments for the implementation of the new minimum wage more than six months after it was signed into law.

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