Labour, federal government to meet on new minimum wage

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Labour leaders and Federal Government officials will meet between tomorrow and Friday to unlock the stalemate over the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage.

Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige said the government had commenced payment of the new wage from Levels 1 to 6 workers.

But Labour leaders accused the government of insincerity. A source described the payments of the new wage to junior workers as “divide and rule tactics”.

The President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, chided the Federal Government for insincerity, adding that its representatives in the negotiation had not shifted ground.

Olaleye said:  ”Up till now , we are still waiting for the representatives of the Federal Government. They promised to consult with the Presidency and get back to us. But we have not heard anything from them. It shows insincerity on their part and we can’t wait further.”

Olaleye said Labour will meet with the Joint Public Sector Negotiating Council (JPSNC) on Friday, adding that, if nothing is done by then, labour will take a decision.

He said:  ”You all know the body language already. So, by Friday, we will meet with the JPSNC and a decision will be taken. I want to assure you that, once a decision is taken, there is no going back.”

The JPSNC warned that workers could go on strike over the delayed implementation of the new wage as the meeting between the Federal Government and the council was stalled.

Both parties failed to reach an agreement, despite minor adjustments in their separate positions.

During the meeting, which was chaired by the thenHead of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, government shifted from its earlier position of 9.5 per cent to 11 per cent for grade levels seven to 14 and 6.5 per cent from 5.5 per cent for levels 15 to 17.

But, workers have insisted that government should adjust the salaries of workers on grade levels 07 to 14 by 30 per cent and those on levels 15 to 17 by 25 per cent, having stepped down to 29 per cent from 30 per cent for grade levels 7 to 14 and 24 to 25 per cent for levels 15 to 17.

Expressing dismay over the failed negotiation, the chairman of JPSNC and National Auditor of the NLC, Simon Anchaver,  accused the government team of toying with workers’ interest.

He said the JPSNC had resolved to write to the NLC,  and the TUC for their advice on a possible industrial action.

A member of the JNPSNC, who confirmed the proposed Friday meeting said that the labour team would be led by the NLC President Ayuba Wabba.

He said labour would use the opportunity to discuss the need for the Federal Government to fast track action on the new minimum wage.

The source kicked against the payment of N30, 000 minimum wage to junior workers on levels 1- 6 employed by the Federal Government, describing it as a “divide and rule tactics”.

The source said: “We are meeting the minister on Thursday. The issue of minimum wage will definitely come up. Even the minister will talk about it.

“We want the government to fast track the process. We are not happy over the decision of the government to pay workers on levels 01-6. It is divide and rule tactics by the government.

“We will mobilise against it. In fact, we have already started mobilising our members but we have not fixed a date yet for it.”

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