Organised labour on Wednesday threatened to embark on a nationwide strike from October 16, if the federal government fails to reconvene the meeting of the committee negotiating the consequential adjustment on the new minimum wage.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) at a meeting with the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC)-Trade Union Side) in Abuja, warned that labour would not guarantee industrial peace in the country if their demands were not met by the government.
Public sector workers in Nigeria have been contending with frustrations from day to day, following the inability of the federal government and organized labour to reach a deal over a new wage that came into effect more than six months ago.
In a statement jointly signed by NLC the President, Ayuba Wabba, his TUC counterpart, Quadri Olaleye and Simon Anchaver, Acting Chairman of JNPSNC (Trade Union Side), the unionists said that labour had all along demonstrated restraint and patience with government.
They noted that labour had to moderate its initial position of having 66.6 per cent upward salary adjustment for workers on salary grade level 07 to grade level 17 by accepting downward adjustment of 29 per cent for officers on salary levels 07-14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers on salary grade levels 15-17.
“Despite this patriotic gesture, the government has kept insisting that it can only pay 11 per cent for officers on grade levels 07-14 and 6.5 per cent consequential wage increase to public workers for officers on levels 15-17.”
According to them, the naira has suffered devaluation from N150 to $1 in 2011 to N360 to $1 in 2019, a depreciation of 140 per cent.
The unionists said that since the last national minimum wage of N18,000 was put in place, workers had been forced to suffer huge inflation and astronomical hike in the prices of essential goods and services.
They pointed out that petroleum price had been hiked from N87 per litre to N145 per litre which translated to 60 per cent price increase and that electricity tariff increased by about 60 per cent.
“Of recent, the Value Added Tax (VAT) has been reviewed from 5 per cent to 7.2 per cent.
“The nonchalant attitude of the government negotiating side has dragged negotiations for consequential wages adjustment unduly.
“The offer by the government for salary adjustment of 11 per cent for public workers on salary grade levels 07 – 14 and 6.5 per cent consequential increase for public workers on grade levels 15 – 17 is not acceptable to Nigerian workers.
“We view the position of government as a show of insensitivity to the general plight of workers and an attempt to collect with the left hand what government has offered with the right hand.
“We demand the reconvening of the meeting of the committee negotiating the consequential adjustment with a view to concluding the process that started on May 28 within one week.
“Entering into an agreement with labour to the effect that salary of officers on grade 07-14 should be reviewed upward by 29 per cent while that of officers on grade level 15-17 should be reviewed upwards by 24 per cent.
“We demand immediate implementation of the signed agreement on consequential adjustment of public workers’ salaries with effect from April 18 when the new national minimum wage of N30, 000 per month was signed into law,” they said.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the new minimum wage bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 18.
However, deliberations have continued as the issue of relativity and consequential adjustment of salaries still persist.
On May 14, the federal government inaugurated the relativity/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, government and labour have failed to reach an agreement over relativity and consequential adjustment for the implementation of the new minimum wage more than six months since Buhari signed the Minimum Wage Bill into law.