By Tosin Kolade
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has dispelled ongoing reports that negotiations between the organised labour and the Technical Committee on Consequential Adjustment of the new minimum wage had stopped.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, the NLC National President, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday that the negotiations were still ongoing.
He said even although the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) were not directly involved in the negotiations, they would step in if any disagreement occurred.
It would be recalled that the new minimum wage bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in April.
However, deliberations were ongoing as the issue of relativity/consequential adjustment of salaries still persisted.
The Federal Government had on May 14 inaugurated the relativity/Consequential Adjustment Committee which in turn set up a Technical Sub-Committee to work out the template for the adjustment of salaries of Public Service Employees.
However, with negotiations resuming on Aug. 14, Wabba noted that Nigerian workers had waited so long for the new minimum wage.
Wabba said people would want to see an end for its full implementation, adding that it was the desire of the organised labour that this became a reality.
“In spite of that the NLC and TUC are not directly involved during the process of consequential adjustment, the process is ongoing; because I read in the papers of how people were saying it had stopped.
“The report that I read from the Joint Negotiating Council is that they are meeting, and if there is any stalemate we will be informed and will step in to assist and all the details of their discussions have been made public.’’
Wabba said that the delay on the issue was not caused by the NLC.
“For anybody on that table to come and say that labour is the one delaying the process he/she is not saying the obvious.
“This is because I learnt that the person that made the statement is the chairman of the technical committee; so clearly speaking, I think it is not in good faith.
“I think also that workers are becoming very concerned, including us because the process must actually have an end where workers will benefit.
“How can a worker or unions that are at the receiving end be the ones delaying the process.
“`For us as a union we wanted this money to be in workers pockets long before now.’’
NAN recalls that Chief Richard Egbule, the Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, attributed the delay in the implementation of the “consequential adjustment” of the N30,000 new minimum wage to the unrealistic demands of labour unions.
Egbule explained that the current demand of the labour unions would raise the total wage bill too high and that was why government could not accept their proposed salary adjustments.
“Labour is asking for consequential adjustment and government in its wisdom had made budgetary provision for an adjustment of N10,000 across the board for those already earning above N30,000 per month.
“However, the unions have refused this offer, saying that because the increase in minimum wage from 18,000 to N30, 000 was 66 per cent, therefore they want 66 per cent increment across the board.
“We told them that the minimum wage was not raised from N18, 000 to N30, 000 through percentage increase but as a result of consideration of economic factors including ability to pay.”
Responding to the claim, Secretary of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Alade Lawal, said the government was trying to force labour to accept its proposal, adding that such would only make workers poorer.