FG, Labour talks on minimum wage fail again

Nigerian workers under the auspices of the Joint National Public Sector Negotiating Council may embark on strike over the delayed implementation of the N30,000 new national minimum wage as meeting between the Federal Government and the Joint Public Sector Negotiating Council again ended in deadlock on Monday.

The negotiation on the consequential adjustment was earlier adjourned to September 4 to allow the government team brief President Muhammadu Buhari and later rescheduled for Monday September 16.

But the negotiation suffered another setback as both parties failed to reach an agreement despite minor adjustments in their separate positions.

During the meeting which was chaired by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, government shifted from its earlier position of 9.5 per cent to 11 per cent for grade levels seven to 14 and 6.5 per cent from 5.5 per cent for levels 15 to 17.

But the workers have insisted that government should adjust the salaries of workers on grade levels 07 to 14 by 30 per cent and those on levels 15 to 17 by 25 per cent, having stepped down to 29 per cent from 30 per cent for grade levels 7 to 14 and 24 from 25 per cent for levels 15 to 17.

Expressing dismay over the turn of events, the chairman of JNPSNC and National Auditor of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Simon Anchaver, in an interview with journalists after the meeting,  accused the government team of toying with workers.

He said the JNPSNC had resolved to write to the Nigeria Labour Congress,  and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, on their advice on a possible industrial action.

According to him, government’s action was an open invitation for industrial action, since workers were already engulfed in fear and agitations whether their accumulated arrears would be paid when talks were finally concluded.

Anchaver, however, said the meeting decided that the two positions be presented to the President for further action.

The Secretary of the JNPSNC, Alade Lawal, said that organised labour would decide on a next line of action towards the issue of the minimum wage.

He maintained that very soon, Nigerians would be informed on the next step to take.

Lawal said, “The meeting is deadlocked; we found out that the Federal Government officials are not serious about it at all, we are suspecting foul play or a hidden agenda somewhere. So, we have decided to report the development to our principals, including the labour unions. Nigerians will be adequately briefed of our next line of action very shortly.”
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