Minimum Wage / Labour Strike Action
Sheriff Quadri is at the helms of affairs on Morning Crossfire today and he starts the show by highlighting fresh issues having to do with minimum wage and the like strike action that Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) is contemplating.
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On 18th April, 2019, President Buhari signed the National Minimum Wage Bill into law. This indicates that the signing of the bill into law now makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay their workers the sum of N30,000 monthly.
In the quest to fully ensure the implementation of the new minimum wage, NLC also wrote a letter to state councils of the union to prepare for an indefinite strike if FG fails to accept its demands on adjustment of salaries as a result of the new minimum wage today.
This is owing to the fact that the organised labour have voiced their disapproval for the percentage increment of civil servants. Yesterday, FG negotiating team met with the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council representing labour unions in negotiating total implementation of the new minimum wage. Both parties are to meet again today to negotiate further since the planned strike is suspended.
NLC is demanding 29 per cent salary increase for officers on salary level 07 to 14 and 24 percent adjustment for officers on salary grade level 15 to 17. Meanwhile, the FG had presented a proposal of 11 per cent salary increase for officers on grade level 07 to 14 and 6.5 per cent adjustment for workers of grade level 15 to 17.
However, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the Federal Government is yet to commence total implementation of the new minimum wage of N30,000 to all categories of workers because organised labour mistakenly saw consequential adjustment in salary as total salary review.
Ngige said the Federal Government had set up a committee that would prepare the ground for total salary review, which would be done in 2020, adding that Federal Government’s personnel budget had risen astronomically from N1.88tr to N3.08tr between 2016 and 2020.
Commenting on whether he thinks that civil servants and other workers in Nigeria are well paid when compared to others in West Africa, Rotimi Sankore says there’s no reason take-home pay should be inadequate that a worker should be broke by 13th or 14th of the month. Meanwhile, other necessities must be taken care of.
“When it comes to all of these, Nigeria falls short. This is a means of ending poverty. If the problem is not solved, the economy of Nigeria is at stake. If workers are unable to afford basic goods and services, the economy will collapse. People should not see the issue of minimum wage as one-sided issue or say that labour is unreasonable. There’s a good economic reason why disposable income is a driver of economic growth.”
Austin Jonah says labour is in touch with National Bodies, those negotiating, and waiting for further responses. But even now, he says, “All of them have shifted grounds. Labour has shifted grounds and government too has done it. We are looking at the gray areas, one or two places to touch and then we’ll finalize. If by 12 midnight today nothing happens, then we’ll go ahead with the strike.”
He also says the 29 percent and the 24 percent that labour asked for is not cast in stone. Labour will not back out and disappoint those believing in the Union. According to Jonah, some said that the idea of the strike is dead on arrival but he believes that is not so.
“But I know that the Federal Government is not going to leave it at 11 percent because they also have the interests of citizens at heart and they should also look at the cost of governance and they must see that it is very high. For example, I take a look at the cost of fueling generators and it about 11 billion naira. That’s on the high side. If we have constant electricity the cost of fueling generators will not be that much. I recommend they take a cut maybe to their salaries to be able to make way for the minimum wage to stand.”
Join the conversation:
Austin Jonah - Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Rivers State Chapter.
Rotimi Sankore - Journalist, Policy and Development Expert
Morning Crossfire with Wemimo Adewuni (@wemimospot) & Sheriff Quadry (@SheriffQuadry), alongside Rotimi Sankore (@RotimiSankore)
Written by Jude Chukwuemeka