Minimum Wage:Technical committee to work out increase
Feelers from the meeting held yesterday between the Federal Government and Labour indicated that workers may return to the trenches soon on the N18,000 new minimum wage implementation.
The parties had agreed last Tuesday night to starting from March 2011 when the new Minimum Wage Bill was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Part of Labour’s demand which was granted was that the payment should be across board while it ought to take effect from July 31, 2011, with arrears from March.
But the Federal Government may have reneged on the promise yesterday, stating that the payment would cover only levels 1-6, which the presidency said it had provided for in this year’s budget.
Niger State Governor, Dr Babangida Aliyu had said last week that unless the presidency concedes part of its 52 per cent share of the federal revenue to the state, they would not be able to pay. He spoke to reporters in Lagos last Thursday.
His Benue State counterpart, Gabriel Suswam said in Abuja over the weekend that even if the civil servants in his state embarked on strike for one year, there was no way he could pay considering the state’s share of the monthly Federal Revenue Allocation. He said 90 per cent of the states would not be able to pay the new wage.
At a meeting with the organized labour held at the Office of the Secretary to the Govrnment of the Federation (SGE) yesterday in Abuja, to discuss the way forward for the smooth implementation of the new minimum wage that ended in a deadlock, the Federal Government told the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) that the best it could do for now, was to add a few thousands of naira, a decision the Labour leaders rejected.
They expressed disappointment over government’s sudden twist on the issue of minimum wage which it had agreed to pay across board as the only condition for calling off its three-day warning strike, which would have started last Wednesday.
But government on the other hand reportedly said if it went ahead and paid the new minimum wage, it would amount to another wage review and increase in salaries that might cause other professional bodies to agitate for their own salaries to be reviewed.
The Federal Government had during the meeting promised to add some amount of money on the salaries of workers on grade leves seven and above to pacify Labour, but the union rejected the offer, insisting that whatever amount of money that would be added, must be done on the basis of percentage and nothing else.
To break ice, Labour and the Federal Government decided to set up a technical committee with a mandate to produce a blueprint on the new wage and how it would apply to civil servants and other sectors across board.
The technical committee, which will sit today and tomorrow, is expected to submit its report on Thursday, when the meeting is expected to reconvene.
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