By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
Following the inability of federal government and the organized labour union to agree on the final modality for implementation of the new national minimum wage, there is impending signal that the economy may suffer a setback if the issue is not resolved quick.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in April 2019, signed into law the N30,000 national minimum wage.
But the implementation of law is yet to be effected six months after presidential assent resulting in heated debates and bickering between the government and the labour union.
The labour union has given the government a two-week ultimatum to either meet their demands or face industrial action in which case the economy would suffer.
The bone of contention is not the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage but the inability of both government and the labour team to reach an agreement over the relativity or consequential for the implementation of the new minimum wage.
Labour has warned that government’s delay is an invitation for industrial action adding that workers were already engulfed in fear and agitations whether their accumulated arrears will be paid at the end of the agreement.
Daily Asset recalls that the federal government had step up from 9.5 percent to 11 percent for grade levels 7 to 14 and 6.5 percent from 5.5 percent for levels 15 to 17.
But the organised Labour, said, “workers stepped down to 29 from 30 percent for grade levels 7 to 14 and 24 from 25 percent for levels 15 to 17.” He added that the labour negotiating team has also resolved to write to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on their advice to consider an industrial action.
Recalled that at the end of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) meeting which was chaired by the Head of service of the federation, Winifred Oyo-ita, our reporter learnt that both the federal government and the labour teams of the joint public service negotiating council only made minor adjustment to their earlier positions.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has said that the demand of labour union over the implementation of the new minimum wage would cost the Federal Government N580 billion.
Ngige maintained that such adjustment in line with labour union demand was
not sustainable as the government would have to lay off some workers
to be able to meet their demand.
The Minister made government’s position known last Thursday in Abuja when the leadership of United Labour Congress (ULC), paid him a courtesy visit.
He said that the Federal Government was avoiding a situation where it would have to lay off workers, adding that this would add to the burden of the citizenry.
The minister however, begged the labour union to accept the consequential adjustment from levels 7 to 17, adding that the Federal Government had only three
months left to implement the new minimum wage.
He stated that the Federal Government would not tell the labour union
what it could not pay, stating that no workers deserved to be owe
Ngige disclosed that the Federal Government had so far paid the
arrears of N500 billion to workers including the Academic Staff Union
of Universities (ASUU).
He said that the implementation of the new minimum wage had commenced
from grade level 1 to 6, adding that this had helped those on the
lower rug of the leader in the civil service to move up.
The Federal Government had told the labour union that it could only
pay 9.5 per cent salary raise for employees on Grade Levels 07-14, and
five per cent for those on Grade Levels 15-17.
But the labour union is demanding 30 per cent for officers on Grade
Levels 07-14, and 25 per cent for those on Grade Levels 15-1
Mr Joe Ajaero, the President of UCL, appealed to the minister for
prompt payment of the new minimum wage, stressing that the private
sector must also be compelled to pay the N30, 000.
He said that there was need to review obsolete laws that were not in
tune with present reality, adding that a situation where some private
sectors paid their employees N10,000 and N15,000 was unacceptable.
The federal government has been basking on the international labour law of Collective Bargain Agreement which stipulates that employer can only accept what they can pay, insisting that the 25 percent consequential demand by labour may not be feasible.