Hitches dog new minimum wage as strike looms

The inability of organised labour and the Federal Government to arrive at common consequential figures for the implementation of the N30,000 national minimum may result in a series of protests by workers.

The ‘take it, or leave it’ posture of government’s negotiation team and the seeming indefinite postponement of talks, it was learnt, are already infuriating labour which confirmed it was mobilising members for an industrial action.

Acting Chairman of the Joint National Public Service Negotiation Council (NPSNC) Trade Union Side, Anchaver Simon, said yesterday in Abuja that industrial peace would be jeopardised if the technical committee on consequential adjustment does not reopen talks soon.

“We have commenced mobilisation and sensitisation of public service employees in the entire 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to prepare them for total trade union action in the event that negotiation on the consequential adjustment arising from the N30,000 monthly new national minimum wage completely breaks down.”

He stated that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) were consulting over the planned action.

While there are no disagreements on grade levels one to six, there are, however, major disagreements in respect of grade levels seven to 17.

On grade level seven, while government proposed addition of N5,139.76k, labour is insisting on N16, 230.83k.

Labour held that poor pay might worsen the prevailing insecurity in the country and recede gains of the anti-corruption crusade of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Secretary of the Council, Alade Lawal, noted while current negotiation does not include the unorganised private sector, their interests have, nevertheless, been accommodated in the National Minimum Wage Law 2019.

He added that state councils had been empowered to negotiate with state governments.

In his remarks, the National President of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHUN), Josiah Biobelemoye, urged the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) to solidarise with labour over the unrest that may arise on account of the impasse.

“The major employer in this sector is government and that is what we are occupied with. NECA understands why we are doing what we are doing. I think NECA would be amazed that we are still dragging this. We believe NECA will give us their support,” he stated.