The Federal Government and organised labour will today meet to discuss consequential increase in the salaries of workers as a result of the new minimum wage of N30,000.
The meeting is coming after another meeting on Monday where labour submitted its preferred percentage on the consequential increase in workers’ salaries as a result of the new minimum wage of N30,000.
Today’s (Tuesday) meeting was a response to labour’s threat of indefinite strike if government refused to accept its demands on or before the close of work on October 16, 2019.
Apart from the minister, Dr Chris Ngige, who would chair the meeting, the Federal Government team will, expectedly, comprise of the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State, Finance, Budget and Planning, Clement Agba; Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN); Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi- Esan; Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze; Acting Chairman, National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta; and the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
Labour will be represented at the meeting by the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, headed by its acting chairman, Achaver Simon, and secretary of the union, Alade Lawal.
The minister of labour had also extended invitation to leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).
Labour is demanding 29 per cent salary increase for officers at salary levels 07 to 14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers at salary grade levels 15 to 17 while the Federal Government had presented to labour a proposal of 11 per cent salary increase for officers at grade levels 07 to14 and 6.5 per cent adjustment for workers at grade levels 15 to 17.
In preparation for the strike, labour on Friday, October 11, 2019 sent a letter to all the state councils, telling them to prepare for the industrial action.
On its part, the Federal Government had been making moves to stop the strike with two impromptu meetings with leaders of the labour unions.
The Monday meeting was preparatory to today’s (Tuesday) meeting before labour will take a decision on whether to proceed on indefinite strike or not.
Already, the Nigeria Labour Congress had sent letters to chairmen and secretaries of its affiliate councils in all states, ordering them to begin coordination of members ahead of possible industrial action.
Among the labour leaders at the Monday meeting were deputy president of the NLC, Amechi Asugwuni; its secretary-general, Emma Ugboaja; Secretary general of the Trade Union Congress, Musa-Lawal Ozigi; Secretary of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Alade Lawal; Ibrahim Khaleel of NLC; Nuhu Toro (TUC); and Musa Abbas (TUC).
Ngige had said before the meeting began that it was important to soften the ground before the major meeting on Tuesday (today), stressing that part of his job as a minister in the ministry was to ensure industrial peace.
He said, “If we don’t soften the ground, bullets will fly and at the end of the day, we will come back to the negotiating table. That is why we are doing this as a pro-active measure. Part of my work is to ensure that there is a quiet industrial milieu.
“On Tuesday, we are going to do the mix grill meeting. That mix grill meeting can be one hour meeting, it can be two hours, or it can be 12 hours, depending on what we are able to achieve today. I appeal to everybody to show some understanding.”
Speaking on behalf of organised labour after the meeting, Asugwuni said labour was prepared to go ahead and embark on strike if the outcome of the Tuesday meeting did not satisfy its demand, stressing that mobilisation of members for the strike was still going on.
He said, “The meeting was a consultative one. The meeting took into consideration the essential issues about the minimum wage that is still pending. With the consultation, we were able to share information with the Minister of Labour and Employment in order to ensure the success of tomorrow’s (today) meeting.
“We believe that the Federal Government will do the needful because ours is a straightforward proposal. We have made our proposal to the Federal Government before now and government is to respond. We believe that by tomorrow, we will get the feedback and know the next thing to do.”
The labour leader said the Monday meeting afforded Ngige the opportunity to know ahead all the facts about what labour had demanded as consequential increase for workers. He noted that labour would not accept anything lower than its demand and ready to take any step to drive home its demands.
“The Federal Government will also meet after this meeting ahead of Tuesday’s meeting which will give birth to what will happen on Tuesday. But labour is prepared to take any step in driving our demand home.
Asugwuni wondered why the Federal Government had found it difficult to compensate workers legitimately after offering their services to the nation.