The Federal Government and Organised Labour again failed to reach an agreement on the full implementation of the new minimum wage after it resumed negotiations on the consequential adjustment of salaries for workers on Thursday.
After about eight hours meeting that began at 5pm and ended at 2am on Thursday, Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, told journalists that both parties have agreed to adjourn the meeting to 7pm today.
Organised Labour was led into Wednesday’s meeting by the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President of the Trade Union Congress, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, former president of TUC, Bobboi Kaigama, NLC Deputy President, Comrade Amaechi Asogwuni, Chairman Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Simon Achaver, NLC’s General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugbaoja, JNPSNC Secretary, Alade Lawal, President of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, Ibrahim Khaleel, and JNPSNC member, Lawrence Amaechi.
The government team had Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi- Esan, Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of State and Employment, Festus Keyamo and the Acting Chairman, National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta n other government officials.
The minister said that both parties finally agreed on so many areas which they had earlier failed to agree on before calling for the adjournment of the meeting.
He said that assignments have been given to some people on both sides, with the committee expecting a feedback from them.
Like on Tuesday, the meeting broke into sessions twice when the government and labour teams had to leave the general session to meet separately before continuing with the joint session.
On Tuesday, both the federal government and organised labour had shifted ground from their initial positions. The government had agreed to an increase of 17 percent for workers on levels 7 – 9. While it offered 15 percent increase to workers on levels 10 -14 and 12 percent increase to workers on levels 15-17.
Before the new offer, government had said that it could only offer 6.5 percent increase for workers on levels 15-17 and 11 percent increase for workers on levels 15-17. While the leadership of organised labour demanded for 25 percent for workers on levels 7- 14 and 20 percent for workers on levels 15-17 during Tuesday’s meeting.
On Wednesday, both parties failed to disclosed details of the areas they had agreed on to journalists.
The minister said: “As you can see, we met and broke into committees, we come back, we finally agreed on so many areas which hitherto we could not agree on and we are adjourning the meeting. We have given assignments to some people on both sides and we will go and do the work and get back to us. The work involved is enormous. We are giving them the entire day to get back to us.
“Issues of money and wage adjustments as per different wage structures; we have about 12 wage structures presently in Nigeria which you know of. We don’t want to make mistakes that could be fatal and thereby put the whole exercise we have done in jeopardy.
“Therefore, we have consensually agreed that we reconvene this meeting at 7pm today. This will enable those that we have given assignments to complete the assignments and bring them back to us.
“We are very okay with the meeting. It is moving on smoothly and as you can see from here there is conviviality, it is very cordial, nobody is fighting. We disagreed about some ares but we have agreed back. That is the important thing. Let the work continue.”
NLC President, Wabba said that some progress had been made but added that an agreement he not been reached.
He aid: “It is the Collective Bargaining Process that has actually lasted this long. Some progress has been made but we have not been able to conclude and then have a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and some committees need to do some computation. You can see that they have worked up to early hours of today. That is in the true spirit of collective bargaining. It is give no take and that is what we are trying to do to get the whole process concluded and put very thing behind all of us.
“In collective bargaining, if a meeting is adjourned, you should know that that is not our practice. Our practice is that until we are able to conclude the issues and we are able to inform them (Nigerians)
appropriately but not midway when we are making progress. We cannot abruptly disrupt the process. At the appropriate time we should be able to give details.
“We cannot speak on the percentage until we finish the negotiation. The matters under consideration are implementation and consequential adjustment.
“That is mere speculation. We should work on the basis of information that is credible.”
By Frank Ikpefan,
The Nation Newspaper