Opinions

Minimum Wage: Labour, FG Reach Agreement

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BY PATRICK MGBODO/AYOMID­EAKINSIKU/OYE
CHIJIOKE

At long last, the Federal Gov­ernment and the organized private sector last night reached a deal in respect of the consequential adjustments with regards to the new minimum wage regime approved in April by the Federal Government. This was going by indications at the strategic talks between both par­ties last night.

The development opens the flood gate to the end of the
ilingering disagreement between the govern­ment and labour, led by the trade
union Congress (TUC) and the Nige­ria Labour Congress (NLC) over the
adjustment, and, hence, the prospect of the imminent implementation of the new
wage regime.

By the spirit of the deal, public officers on Grade levels 7 to
14, will enjoy a 20 per cent raise in their
pay, while those on levels 15 and above will have a raise of 13.5 per cent on
their current.

This was the major outcome of last ditch meeting between organized
labour and the government, which capped last night in Abuja.

Before this development, Civil Servants in Delta State, on Wednesday
groped in confusion as suspected unionists defied the deadlock in the minimum
wage talks between Federal Government (FG) and organized labour to seal up
government offices to commence industrial action.

Negotiations over the N30, 000 Minimum Wage structure had forced the
Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and FG to the
negotiation table in order to avert industrial action as earlier threatened by
labour. That negotiation on Tues­day did not yield a common ground, leading to
the resumption of talks yesterday.

News of the decision for the resumption of negotiation be­tween labour
and the FG did not reach state offices early enought on Tuesday, some of which
were unaware of the late night 24 hour shift in the effective time for the
take-off of the threatened industrial action.

In Asaba, workers expressed shock over the closure of their offices despite
the impasse between Federal Government and organized labour, just as students
of public schools were left stranded without prior notice.

The Delta State House of Assembly Complex, Federal and state
secretariats, Stephen Keshi Stadium, Post Primary Education Board (PPEB), the
Delta Dtate Library and other buildings hous­ing government ministries,
department and agencies (MDAs)were under lock and key On the contrary, private
establishments such as banks, petrol stations, schools, stores and malls, were
not perturbed by the situation as business continued as usual.

The Pointer gathered that the state arm of the Nigeria Labour Congress
(NLC) Chairman, Comrade Goodluck Ofoburuku, dis­patched a task force of the
union to monitor non-compliance of workers to the union’s directive on the
strike. The Labour leader told The Pointer that the strike was conducted based
on the fact that the federal government refused to fulfill negotiations in
paying 30,000 minimum wages to its workforce.

Ofoburuku noted that, as leaders they were duty bound to comply to
directives even though the State government had promised to pay as soon as
labor concludes negotiations with the Federal Government on the matter.

Labour, through the Joint National Public Service Negotiat­ing Council,
has been negotiating with the Federal Government since June 6, 2019, even as
Secretary of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Alade
Lawal, said that the meeting would spell a new direction towards ending the
controversy surrounding negotiation.

Earlier on
Tuesday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, commenced
dialogue with labour unions in Abuja to avert the threat issued by labour for
the payment of a new wage approved for workers by the Federal Government.



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