Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria has expressed worries about the lingering case of negotiations on the new minimum wage for workers in the country.
Naija News recalls the N30,000 new minimum wage was signed into law by the President in April 2019. About six months down the line, the new wage is yet to be implemented.
The delay is occasioned by the fact that the Federal Government proposed 9.5 percent salary increase for employees on grade levels 07 to 14 and five percent for those on grade levels 15 to 17 but the Nigerian labour Congress is demanding 30 percent increase for officers on grade levels 07 to 14 and 25 percent increase for grade levels 15 to 17 and both parties are yet to agree on a common ground for implementation.
As negotiations continue, President Muhammadu Buhari has therefore directed that a specific timeline be put in place for the conclusion of negotiation on the consequential adjustment between the government and the Joint National Public Service Negating Council which will pave way for the implementation of the new wage regime.
The President has also directed the setting up of a Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages which will be saddled with the responsibility of receiving complains and reviewing salaries and work schedule as well as assigning appropriate salaries to different categories of workers.
Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, made the disclosures to newsmen when he hosted the leadership and members of the Labour Correspondents Association of Nigeria (LACAN) in his office.
He said the President wants the negotiations concluded to avoid the huge backlog of arrears already building up and the burden of payment it may place of government across all levels.
“Part of it is the new minimum wage which the President signed in April. It is a pity that after signing it, May came and a lot of us were sent on compulsory leave. We are now coming back from leave. If you remember, a committee was set u and I was a member”, Ngige noted.
“When we left, the Permanent Secretary took our place and were negotiating with the Joint negotiating Council on the consequential adjustment. The states are waiting for that and it is not proper for us not to fast track that negotiation so that even the states will not have too much backlog to pay when the consequential adjustment is concluded.
The Minister, however, noted that provisions have been made by the federal government for the payment of the new minimum wage in the 2019 budget, adding that same will be made in the 2020 budget.
“We have our own budgeted for in the 2019 budget and we are going to also budget for it in the 2020 budget. We are concerned about the states because some of the states are not proactive like us.
“So, the sooner we conclude at the federal level and the Joint Negotiating Councils in the states takes it from there and negotiate with the states, the better for everybody. If we spill this into next year, I am not sure how many states will be able to pay the backlog which will lead us to another round of negotiation.
“It is the determination of the President and this administration to fast track the negotiation on consequential adjustment. I have just received a correspondence from the Chief of Staff to the President and we are putting a deadline to that negotiation.
“We are fast-tracking it because the government will also want to put in place a Presidential Committee on Salaries and Allowances that will be able to take request after this consequential adjustment.
“That same committee will appraise the level of workload and evaluate all cadre of work and come out with salaries and allowances commensurate with each. It is one of the things that the government has decided and I have just seen the correspondence.
“When the details are out, we will let you know. That is to show workers both in the public and private sector that this government is labour-friendly and we want them to be in the decent work world.”
Naija News recalls that the last negotiation between the government and the JNPSNC was to hold on Sept. 4 but was suspended and now rescheduled for Monday, 16th September, 2019.