The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, has said that unrealistic demand from senior civil servants is delaying the implementation of the new Minimum Wage.
But in a quick response, the Joint National Public Negotiation Council, which is representing workers in the negotiation, said government introduced a new strategy to halt negotiation with the introduction of new figures to come up with its own template.
Labour added that the new template the Federal Government was proposing to implement the new minimum wage would impoverish workers.
Negotiation between the Federal Government and the Joint National Public Negotiation Council broke down two weeks ago because of differences in percentage increase in the salaries of workers.
While the Federal Government’s representatives in the technical committee had proposed 9.5 per cent salary increase for workers on Grade Level 07 to Level 14 and five per cent increase for employees on Grade Level 15 to 17, the labour representatives are demanding 30 per cent salary increase for workers on Grade Level seven to 14 and 25 per cent for workers on Grade Level 15 to 17.
According to Lawal, considering the state of the economy, what the Federal Government tabled as proposal as consequential increase during negotiation that broke down would only make workers poorer.
He said, “The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation was not saying the truth. The whole world knows that we started negotiation with the government with open hands, hoping that we would be accorded same by the Federal Government’s representatives in the committee. At a stage, government became unrealistic considering all variables that had taken place in our economy.
“What the government is putting on the table will only make workers poorer. Some of the actors on the side of government think they know more than everybody. This is why we are where we have found ourselves today. It is the government that is delaying implementation for obvious reason that it is not ready to pay what is reasonable to workers.”
The Secretary General of the JNPSNC, Alade Lawal, has however denied the Federal Government’s claim.
He says the government is unwillingness to hold fair and healthy bargain with labour during negotiation.
“That clause about 2019 budget alignment was not part of the terms of reference given when the committee was inaugurated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on May 14.
“We were not consulted when government decided on the figure and inserted it in the budget. How then can that figure be the benchmark for our negotiation?
“That means that government had decided on what it wanted to pay and only wanted us to rubber-stamp it. In that case, why opening negotiation with labour on the minimum wage? If the Federal Government already knew the figure, then there was no need for bargaining. However, in labour matters and industrial relations, collective bargaining is a key process in ensuring fairness. These are questions Nigerians must ask government.”
While accusing government of deliberately stalling negotiation on the new minimum wage with labour, Lawal said he had earlier said that if negotiation took too long to commence, there would be huge arrears of additional salaries to pay and government would introduce difficult technicalities to beat the reality.
“When it was taking too long for the government to set up the negotiating committee, we warned that the arrears could scare government from fair negotiation. That is what we are experiencing now,” he added.