Minimum wage: Trouble looms as labour threatens strike
The Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council and the eight unions in the public service across the country on Monday said its members would embark on industrial action over what they observed as Federal Government’s insistent effort to derail the implementation of the new national minimum wage of N30,000.
In statement signed by the Acting Chairman of the JNPSNC, Anchaver Solomon, and the Secretary, Alade Lawal, the council said it had started the course of mobilising its members nationwide for a showdown with the government.
The statement read, “Operating under the aegis of the Trade Union Side of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, the eight unions in the public service of the federation and 36 states have alerted Nigerians that labour may have to embark on industrial action if the current state of affairs as regards the issue of consequential adjustment arising from the new national minimum wage of N30,000.00 per month remains the same.
“Since the committee set up early this month by the government to work out the consequential adjustments arising from the new national minimum wage of N30,000.00 started to meet, government has been coming up with one strange proposal or the other, all with the intent of scuttling the implementation of the new national minimum wage signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, April 18, 2019. As things are right now, the government’s side is only prepared to pay peanuts to workers as adjustment under the pretext that it will soon be undertaking general salary review in the public service.”
The statement added, “Labour leaders had initially proposed that since the minimum wage was increased by 66.66 per cent, i.e. from N18,000.000 to N30,000.00, salaries for officers on grade levels 01-17 should be adjusted accordingly to maintain the relativity that exists in the salary structure in the public service.
“But when the government side argued that such increase across board would raise the total wage bill too high, the Trade Union side reviewed its demand downward and eventually settled for 30 per cent for officers on grade levels 07-14 and 25 per cent for those on grade levels 15-17. The government side on its part was insisting on 9.5 per cent salary raise for employees on grade levels 07-14 and five per cent for those on grade levels 15-17.
“We received a rude shock at the last meeting of the technical committee when the government side began to hold on to a non-existent position that the technical committee’s terms of reference was to base its assignment in respect of salary adjustment on what was provided for the subject in the 2019 budget. This is very incorrect and unfortunate.”
The workers also blamed politicians for frustrating their efforts to receive a better pay package, saying the only way to evade possible nationwide strike was for government to be sincere and open in its negotiation.
“This is why the eight trade unions in the public service have resolved that enough is enough and that if the FG fails to caution its officials and direct them to negotiate openly, millions of workers at the federal and 36 states will have no other alternative but to take some necessary trade union actions to seek redress.”