Nigerian workers have 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 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.
It would be recalled that the new minimum wage bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 18. However, deliberations has 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.
Below is the full statement signed by the two unions.
The leadership of Organized Labour in Nigeria comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) met today, 2nd October, 2019 with the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC-Trade Union Side) at the Labour House, Abuja.
The sole agenda of the meeting was to receive briefing from JNPSNC and to discuss the way forward on the deadlock in negotiations for consequential wage adjustment for workers in public service arising from recent enactment of the new national minimum wage of N30,000. Subsequently, the meeting went into very extensive deliberations around the following concerns;
Organized labour has out of its patriotic disposition demonstrated a great deal of restraint, consideration and patience with government. In the course of negotiations for consequential salary adjustment, organized labour had to moderate its initial position of having 66.6% upward salary adjustment for workers on salary grade level 07 – 17 by accepting an upward adjustment of 29% for officers on salary level 07-14 and 24% adjustment for officers on salary grade level 15 – 17. Despite this patriotic gesture, government has kept insisting that it can only pay 11% for officers on grade level 07 – 14 and 6.5% consequential wage increase to public workers for officers on level 15-17;
Since the last national minimum wage of N18,000, workers have been forced to suffer huge inflation and astronomical hike in the prices of essential goods and services. The following examples would suffice;
The country’s currency, the naira had suffered devaluation from N150 to $1 in 2011 to N360 to $1 in 2019, a depreciation of 140%.
Furthermore, petroleum price has been hiked from N87 per liter to N145 per liter which translates to 60% price increase.
Electricity tariff has been increased by about 60%.
Of recent, the Value Added Tax (VAT) has been reviewed from 5% to 7.2%.
The nonchalant attitude of the government negotiating side has dragged negotiations for consequential wages adjustment unduly. Nigerian workers have exercised tremendous patience and restraint already.
At the end of our deliberation, the leadership of organized labour in Nigeria resolved as follows;
The offer by government for salary adjustment of 11% for public workers on salary grade level 07 – 14 and 6.5% consequential increase for public workers on grade level 15 – 17 is not acceptable to Nigerian workers. We view the position of government as a show of insensitivity to the plight of workers and an attempt to collect with the left hand what government had 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 the 28th of May, 2019 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% while that of officers on grade level 15-17 should be reviewed upwards by 24%; and
Commence immediate implementation of the signed agreement on consequential adjustment of public workers’ salaries with effect from 18th of April 2019 when the new national minimum wage of N30,000 per month was signed into law.
In conclusion, the leadership of organized labour in Nigeria wishes to categorically state that the leadership of labour cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if our demands are not met at the close of work on Wednesday, 16th October, 2019.
Aluta continua… Victoria Ascerta!