As part of the last-minute efforts to avert industrial action by the organised labour, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, wednesday met with members of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), including the leadership of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), to break the stalemate over the consequential adjustment of the new national minimum wage.
The meeting, which lasted for over two hours, resolved that labour and the government should hold separate meetings to sort out all outstanding disagreements before a high-level conclusive meeting to wrap up all discussions on October 15.
However, despite yesterday’s meeting, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria has started mobilising for strike, saying that the partial implementation of the minimum wage for levels one to six officers is a ‘divide-and-rule’ system that would be vehemently opposed by labour.
The last time the federal government team met with the JNPSNC on September 15, the talks ended in deadlock with labour accusing the government of lack of seriousness and willingness to reach agreement on the implementation of the minimum wage.
The labour movement had rejected the offer by government for salary adjustment of 11 per cent for public workers on salary grade level 07 to 14 and 6.5 per cent consequential increase for public workers on grade level 15 to 17.
Both NLC and TUC had issued a communiqué last week after consulting JNPSNC over the botched minimum wage payment negotiations, threatening to embark on an industrial action by October 16 if government fails to conclude talks on the wage increase.
Labour also gave the government until yesterday (Wednesday) to reconstitute its negotiating team and to commence talks.
But in a statement yesterday by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Charles Akpan, the ministry said the meeting resolved that there would be a high-level discussion on October 15 to finalise agreement on the modalities for the full implementation of the new minimum wage across board.
Those in attendance were the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State, Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba; Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN; Acting Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi- Esan; Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze; Acting Chairman, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta; and the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris.
Also present were the Deputy President, NLC, Mr. Amaechi Asogwuni; the General Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Ugboaja; Mr. Achaver Simon as well as the representatives of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) standing in for the Organised Labour.
However, Secretary-General of the JNPSNC, Mr. Alade Lawal, said the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria in Abuja had started mobilising for strike.
He said the partial implementation of the minimum wage for levels one to six was a ‘divide-and-rule’ system that would be vehemently opposed by labour.
Lawal added that organised labour was not opposed to discussion, consultations or anything and deplored the delay in reconvening the meeting of the committee on consequential adjustment.