Again, the federal government, Wednesday met organised labour leaders to find middle ground on how to resolve the lingering questions that hinder the implementation of the new minimum wage.
This meeting was a sequel to the union’s threat to stage an industrial action if the FG refuses to accept its demand on the new minimum wage implementation by October 16.
The union also insisted that the government must hold a final meeting on October 15.
The meeting is the latest in a series of meetings with labour leaders, aimed at commencing the payment of the consequential adjustment in the new minimum wage, signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari since April 18.
The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) participated in the meeting with the labour minister, Chris Ngige.
But this development followed a communiqué, by labour leaders warning that economic activities would be shut down on October 16 if the Federal Government failed to reconvene a meeting of the committee on consequential adjustments.
The General Secretary of Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Alade Lawal, said during a meeting of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria at a separate location in Abuja that mobilisation of workers for a possible industrial action after October 16, 2019, had reached an advanced stage.
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.
“As far as I am concerned, nothing has been implemented. What are they implementing? We are negotiating something and somebody went behind to start issuing one circular. As far as we are concerned, nothing has been done and if you want to look at it, levels one to three has been out-sourced.
”How many people are there? So when you even look at the circular, it is full of errors. As far as we are concerned, no circular has been issued.”
Lawal said organised labour was not opposed to discussion, consultations ”or anything to resolve the minimum wage issues”.
He also said the delay in reconvening the meeting of the committee on the consequential adjustment is worrisome.
A statement signed by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, on Wednesday to TIMELY POST said Ngige, presided over the meeting.
The statement said the government team met members of JNPSNC and organised labour separately.
“It was resolved that each group would hold further meetings to sort out all outstanding disagreements before a high level conclusive meeting to wrap up all discussions, paving the way for an equable implementation of the Consequential Adjustment of the Minimum Wage scheduled for Tuesday, October 15, 2019,” the statement said.
However, an official source who pleaded anonymity for fear of victimisation said the meeting was called to douse the tension created by the notice given by the workers union on possible strike action.
“The purpose is to address the threat of labour and how the FG and labour can reach an amicable solution over the new minimum wage of N30,000. It is a closed-door meeting so only the government representatives and the union leaders are involved.”
President Buhari signed a new minimum wage into law in April 2019 but its implementation has been stalled over disagreements between the unions and government representatives.
It was, however, reported how the implementation of the new wage has remained a problem, arising from the issue of relativity and consequential adjustments.
On May 14, the Federal Government inaugurated the relativity and consequential adjustment committee, which in turn set up a technical sub-committee to work out a template for the adjustment of salaries of public service employees.
However, the government and labour have failed to reach an agreement for more than six months after the law was signed.
National dailies: 10 things to know this Wednesday morning
Good morning! Here is today’s TIMELY POST bulletin from Nigerian Newspapers:
- The Debt Management Office has said that Nigeria public debt stands at N25.7trn up by N3.32trn in one year as at the end of June 2019. It also said that while the Federal Government owed N20.42trn as at June 30, 2019, the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory debt portfolio stood at N5.28trn.
- National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), has said the renewal of the National Identity Card will cost three thousand naira (N3,000) as well as charging the sum of N5,000 for card replacement payable through remita. This, however, drew angry reactions from Nigerians, who described the new policy as wicked and callous on the side of the government.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will remain weak in 2019. The fund stated this in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) for October 2019, released at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC.
- Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has faulted the N99.87 billion capital expenditure allocation for Ministry of Defence in the 2020 national budget. Ndume said that the amount is less than one percent of the N10.33 trillion budget proposal for 2020 fiscal year. The lawmaker noted that the country is in a war and if such ‘paltry sum’ is presented for the entire defence and not just the Army, it shows that the federal government is not serious about ending the insurgency war.
- The meeting between the organised labour and representatives of the Federal Government have been moved till Wednesday, Oct. 16, to allow for sorting out of all grey areas of contention. It was gathered that the organised labour had shifted its earlier position from 29 per cent to 25 per cent for grade levels seven to 14, while for levels 15 to 17 now 20 per cent, which was earlier 24 percent.
- Nigeria Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan on Tuesday announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval of N10 billion for Kogi State. In the letter, Buhari said, the amount was expended on projects on behalf of the Federal government which he was seeking the refund through promissory notes and bonds. The letter also explained that 23 other states with authorised expenditures on behalf of the Federal government have been previously refunded, noting that Kogi State would be refunded on prompt approval of the Parliament.
- The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has kicked against President Muhammadu Buhari decision to seek the permission of the Senate to approve over N10bn for Kogi State. PDP called on the National Assembly to invoke its statutory powers and directly channel the N10.069 billion Presidential funds for payment of salaries and pensions of suffering Kogi State workers. The party said it was scandalous that Buhari Presidency, with its claims of transparency and integrity, would seek to mislead the National Assembly by asserting that the fund is for projects done by the state government on behalf of the Federal Government.
- Senate President Ahmad Lawan has declared the Federal Government would be $1.5billion richer next year following the passage of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (PSC) (Amendment) Bill by the Senate.
- Chairman of the Senate committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has disclosed that a total of 847 Nigerian soldiers had lost their lives to the Boko Haram insurgency in the last six years. Ndume said the Army high command gave the casualty figures to the committee last Thursday.
- The Senate has adjourned plenary for two weeks to engage Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in defence of their 2020 budget. The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan announced the adjournment during Tuesday’s plenary.
Labour, FG meeting ongoing for final resolution over new minimum wage implementation
The meeting between the organised labour and representatives of the Federal Government has been moved till Wednesday, Oct. 16, to allow for sorting out of all grey areas of contention.
A top labour official, who pleaded anonymity, hinted that the organised labour had shifted its earlier position from 29 per cent to 25 per cent for grade levels seven to 14, while for levels 15 to 17 now 20 per cent, which was earlier 24 per cent.
The Federal Government has made its earlier position to shift from levels seven to nine to 17 per cent and levels 10 to 14 at 15 per cent.
It also shifted that of levels 15 to 17 to 12 per cent.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the organised labour is demanding 29 per cent salary increase for officers on salary levels 07 to 14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers on salary grade levels 15 to 17.
But the Federal Government had presented a proposal of 11 per cent salary increase for officers on grade levels 07 to 14 and 6.5 per cent adjustment for workers of grade levels 15 to 17.
At a meeting in Abuja, the Head of Service, Mrs Folashade Yemi-Esan, expressed hope that the meeting would get to a logical conclusion when it reconvenes on Wednesday.
“Today, the Labour side has discovered that there is just one side on the welfare of workers, we have worked very well together today.
“Both sides have made a lot of contentions, but we discovered that there are some grey areas that need to be ironed out.
“Some documents and information are being sourced that they are providing, by the grace of God tomorrow, discussion will continue and we believe that we will be able to get everything resolved.”
Speaking the end of the meeting, Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Amaechi Asugwuni, who spoke on behalf of the organised Labour, urged to the Federal Government to shift grounds for agitation ahead.
According to him, the matter is a straight forward matter, negotiations is ongoing we actually thought the meeting will be concluded today but that prediction was not successful, therefore, adjournment became necessary.
” To the best of our knowledge, the struggle will still continue, tommorow, we will meet by 2p.m, and that meeting will determine the fate of the parties, we expect that we close that meeting positively.
“So far, commitment has been shown, but we believe that the areas that are still in contest are critical, therefore, we urge the government also on their part see how they can shift ground positively to integrate the agitations ahead.”
Those at the meeting include: the NLC General Secretary, Comrade Emma Ugboaja, Musa Lawal Ozigi of the TUC, Nuhu Toro (TUC) Lawal Alade Bashir as well as Comrade Musa Abbas while in attendance at the meeting with the Joint National.
Others are: Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, Acting Chairman of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta.
Labour had resorted to the strike option, from Oct. 17, following an apparent inability of the government and labour to find a way out of the minimum wage logjam.
The minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said there is the need for organised labour to set the records straight to workers to understand that current economic realities may not accommodate percentage increase on the minimum wage.
According to him, continued threat of strike action from the organised labour was an intimidation of government and antithetical to the International Labour Organisation principles on negotiations and Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“I will also not seat and watch labour intimidate government. If you dangle strike, it is intimidation and ILO Convention does not permit it.
“People should negotiate freely. If government threatens you in the course of negotiation, it is intimidation.
“We cannot allow government to shut down the economy because it wants to pay salaries and wages.
“The 2020 budget of N10.3trillion has N3.8trillion as personnel cost without overhead.
“If you add running cost and other incidental costs, the total recurrent budget as presented to the National Assembly has taken 76 per cent. Where do we get the money to build roads, airport, rails, health centres, schools etc.
“It is a matter of balancing a budget that is 76 per cent recurrent and 24 per cent capital, for me, it is nothing to cheer about.
“In the 76 per cent, government has captured N200 billion for consequential adjustment for the minimum wage and so on. These are all part of personnel.
“N160 billion is for consequential adjustment of the minimum wage and not total package of workers’ salaries. Everybody has to make sacrifice. We must plug leakages.”
He stressed the need for all workers to be incorporated into the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) to reduce ghost workers in the public service.
“The number of workers, 1.4 million or 1.5 million out of 200 million people take 33 per cent of the budget which has deficit. It is important we know this. It is up to us to use all the money to pay salaries and the economy will grind to a halt and be like Venezuela.”
Buhari seeks N10bn approval from Senate for Kogi
Nigeria Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan on Tuesday announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval of N10 billion for Kogi State.
In the letter, Buhari said, the amount was expended on projects on behalf of the Federal government which he was seeking the refund through promissory notes and bonds.
The letter also explained that 23 other states with authorised expenditures on behalf of the Federal government have been previously refunded, noting that Kogi State would be refunded on prompt approval of the Parliament.
“I am seeking approval of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for N10 billion being expenditures on projects executed in Kogi State on behalf of the Federal government. ”
“Take note also that the said expenditure was authorised by the Federal Government which other 23 States of the Federation have also been refunded.”
Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan referred the letter to Senate Committee on Foreign loans and debts to turn in report in two weeks.
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