Consequently, workers on grade levels 1 to 17 in the federal civil service are to have some money added to their current salary, as an increment arising from the new National Minimum Wage Act. Both parties also agreed, after a two-hour closed door meeting, that the implementation of the new pay structure would commence this month. In a communiqué read by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Chukwuemeka Wogu, the Federal Government gave the assurance that the new wage would be implemented and the issue of relativity would be taken care of.www.mannastores.com
“The detailed negotiation on relativity adjustment with respect to the implementation of the minimum wage has been sorted out and agreed upon. Modalities will be worked out and these modalities that will be worked out will be worked out by the joint committee and will be tabled before the national executive councils of NLC and TUC,” he read. According to the communiqué, “It is equally agreed that the implementation of the payment of what has been concluded upon today would begin August 2011.
“Equally, the spirit of this negotiation that whatever role anybody plays especially from the TUC and NLC nobody will be victimised by government and this is the conclusion. I think when they finish from their NAC meeting they will communicate government on the outcome of such meeting.”
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Abdulwahed Omar said the discussion on relativity would have been concluded by July 31, but unfortunately, it was segmented because of one or two areas of non-agreement.
“Majorly in the area of adjustment across the board, as a result of compliance with the new Minimum Wage Act, this adjustment now cuts across board in order to maintain some reasonable relativity,” he said.
He said all labour centres would make formal presentations to their respective organs in a meeting by today and would communicate to the government whatever agreements were reached.
President-General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Peter Esele also confirmed that the issue of relativity would be discussed at the National Executive Council (NEC).
“Now, we have to go back to the organ of the trade union if we are not satisfied or have any ill-feelings about it. We can’t just come here and say they are not accepting it. There is a window around it that we want to take back to our principal, if they accept the window, fine,” he said. This is seen as a major victory for the organised labour as it has been alleged in some quarters that some state governments have been watching the direction of its negotiations with the Federal Government to determine their (governors’) next line of action at the state level.
The Federal Government delegation after adjourning the meeting last Sunday met again with representatives of NLC and the TUC at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in Abuja yesterday.
The organised labour had in February 2009 demanded N54,000 as new national minimum wage for workers with the argument that the current wage of N7,500 could no longer cater for the needs of workers.
Apparently in a bid to forestall a labour crisis, the Federal Government had in May 2009 constituted a tripartite committee which had eight members drawn from labour, government and employers to negotiate a new wage for workers. The committee headed by Justice Alfa Belgore completed its negotiations last year with a recommendation of N18,000 minimum wage for the workers and this was agreed to by all stakeholders, including representatives of state governments.
The Belgore committee had recommended that: “In order to forestall any possible industrial crises that might arise as a result of the new national minimum wage, the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity as a matter of expediency convene a meeting of the social partners (NLC, TUC and NECA) to agree on the broad guidelines for the implementation of the new national minimum wage in the various sectors of the economy, including the public service.”
The N18,000 minimum wage was however endorsed by the council of state, the highest advisory body in December last year after series of strike threats and pressure from labour. The National Minimum Wage Bill was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan in March this year after being passed by the National Assembly.