Minimum wage: Labour warns as FG is set to disappoint workers

There are indications that the full implementation of the N30,000  new minimum wage for civil servants may not take effect this month.

The Chairman of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Abdrafiu Adeniji, told our correspondent exclusively that  despite  President Muhammadu Buhari signing the National  Minimum Wage Act into law in April, technicalities surrounding negotiation process might necessitate the first batch of salaries to be paid in arrears.

This came as the Secretary of the JNPSNC, Alade Lawal, warned  federal  and state governments against the burden of heavy arrears.

According to Adeniji, while the council is ready for negotiation,  the Federal Government has yet to come up with  the  salary table that will kick-start  negotiations.

He said, “Negotiation is a technical issue that must be handled well. We have to look at many indices. The government is expected to make its own preparations, specifying what it intends to add to salaries. Eight bodies will eventually meet to conclude the negotiations. If workers cannot get the new salary in May, there is always room for  payment of arrears.”

Lawal, who is coordinating negotiations on behalf of workers, warned government of the danger in delaying negotiations  with labour.

He recalled that the last negotiations  when the minimum wage was raised to N18,000 was poorly handled,  adding that  the JNPSNC would  negotiate the best deal for workers this time  round.

He said, “Now that the minimum wage has been signed into law, the next stage is for the government to open negotiations with the JNPSNC  on  the relativity and consequential adjustment in the new  salary. The minimum salary in the civil service before was 18,900 when the minimum wage was N18,000; you can pay higher but not lower. The only thing that has been agreed now is the new law which specified N30,000. But what we have not known is what salary workers from level one to level 17 will take home. “Government cannot just throw a figure at us by a fiat. We have written a letter to the Office of the Head of Service and copied the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and office of the Salaries, Income and Wages Commission to tell them to set up a body that will start the negotiations.

“On Thursday we sent a reminder to them. We have not heard anything concrete from the letter but we hope to put more pressure on government to ensure that the process is completed quickly. If you leave government at its pace, things might not be done as fast as expected.
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