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Nigeria Labour Union Blow Hot Again

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Nigeria Labour Union Blow Hot Again

Labour unions in the country have
drawn the battle line with state governors over
the new minimum wage signed into law by
President Muhammadu Buhari in April 2019, with
the former threatening to shut down the nation
should the latter fail to act accordingly to what was agreed.
Organised labour also said it would not
accept any breach of the consequential
adjustment agreement, which details how the
minimum wage of N30,000 will be
implemented across various salary scales.
The reaction of labour was elicited by
Monday’s declaration of Nigeria’s Governors’
Forum, NGF, that the Federal Government
cannot dictate to governors on issues relating
to payment of the new minimum wage.
“I am sure you know the FEC does not
determine what happens in the states, the
states have their own state executive councils
and that is the highest decision-making body
at the state level.
“The forum (NGF) as the representative body
of the states, followed what happened in the
negotiations that transpired. As far as we are
concerned, the best that the forum can do is
stick to what has been agreed with states.
“States were part of the tripartite negotiation
and agreed to N30,000 minimum wage. But
states also know there will be consequential
adjustments. That would be determined by
what happened on a state-by-state basis
because there are different numbers of
workers at the state level, there are different
issues at the state level.
“Every state has its own trade unions, with a
negotiating committee and they would
undertake this discussion with their state
government. That is simply what we have
said,’’ chairman of the NGF and governor of
Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, had said at the
end of a meeting of governors that lasted
more than five hours in Abuja.
‘Govs must open up on states’ accounts’
Reacting to this yesterday, leader of the Joint
National Public Service Negotiating Council,
Simon Anchaver, said the new minimum wage
is a law that had been signed by the
President, and that the revenue of state
governments would determine the
consequential adjustment on the new
minimum wage it would accept.
He also said labour will insist governors open
the books of their states to the public to
ascertain if they could pay not just the new
minimum wage but also the consequential
adjustment.
Anchaver said the revenue of a state would
be the main factor on the rate of
consequential adjustment it agrees with such
a state.
“Since it is a law, the state governments must
pay. First and foremost, they should declare
how much they are collecting from their
respective state revenue, then we will know if
it is commensurable to pay minimum wage.
“Once they (state governments) disclose their
revenue, they can negotiate and that should
be supervised by the national officers so that
we can avoid situations where some labour
leaders will be in the hands of the state
government,” he said.
According to him, a meeting of National Joint
Council 1,2,3 would hold on November 5 and
“we will address the joint councils at the
various states; we will give them templates
that will guide them on the implementation.
“We are ready for shut down if any (part) of
the agreement is breached,” he warned.
Anchaver’s position was re-echoed by the
General Secretary of Nigerian Labour
Congress, Emma Ugboaja, who had said no
state can discard the fact that a minimum
wage of N30,000 would be at the centre of
every negotiation.
“Everybody will negotiate differently based on
the state (of the) economy but what is
sacrosanct is the minimum wage of N30,000
and how that will be adjusted across the
board is the function of collective bargaining
between the workforce and government,” he
said.
Though President Buhari signed the new
minimum wage bill into law on April 18, its
implementation had been stalled over salary
adjustments and disagreement between the
labour unions and government
representatives.
The problem revolved around the issue of
relativity and consequential adjustments of
salaries for various categories of workers.
Government argued that the minimum wage
was for junior-level workers (levels 1 to 7)
and that salary increase for other categories
of worker would have to be negotiated.
On May 14, the Federal Government
inaugurated the relativity and consequential
adjustment committee, which set up a
technical sub-committee to work out a
template for the adjustment of salaries of
public service employees in line with the
minimum wage law.
The controversy was resolved between both
parties on October 18, following which FEC
approved the implementation, and directed
that payment should take effect from April 18
and arrears cleared by December 31.
The agreement over consequential
adjustments averted a strike that labour had
threatened to call should government further
delay take-off of the new minimum wage.
Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, who announced
details of the agreement, had explained: “For
COMESS wage structure, Grade level 7 gets
23 per cent, Salary grade level 8 gets 20 per
cent, Salary grade level 9 gets 19 per cent,
Salary grade level 10-14 gets 16 per cent
while Salary grade level 15-17 gets 14 per
cent, “ he said.
“For those on the second category of wages
structure, CONHES, CONRRISE, CONTISS etc,
Level 7 gets 22.2 per cent, Level 8-14 gets
16 per cent, Level 15-17 gets 10.5 per cent.’
But president of Nigeria Labour Congress,
NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who said both parties
participated in the process and made input.,
stated: “We want our workers to be
committed and productivity increased. The
guideline will be transmitted to all state
councils and they will work in harmony as
well as TUC and NLC will work together.’’

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