TALK between labour unions and the federal government have broken down after a negotiating committee set up to negotiate the consequential adjustment arising from the N30,000 ($82) new minimum wage has rejected what the government is offering.
Earlier this year, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new Minimum Wage Bill into law, increasing the national minimum salary to N30,000 a month from N18,000 a month. To implement the transition, a committee was set up made up of representatives of organised labour and government officials.
However, the committee, which was inaugurated on May 14, appears to be deadlocked as it has failed to meet the four-week deadline to submit its report. Members met twice last week with the enlarged membership collapsed into one technical committee of six members each from both sides.
Winifred Oyo-Ita, the head of the civil service, who was appointed as chairman of the panel, stepped down as the chairman of the National Wages, Salaries and Income Commission to head the technical committee. Despite giving the matter her full attention, however, she has been unable to resolve the differences between the government and the unions on how to introduce the new wage.
One principal officer of a labour union, said the government’s position on the consequential adjustment had been rejected by labour representatives on the committee. He added that labour decided to be careful in reaching an agreement based on what happened when the minimum wage was last increased and also to avoid being blackmailed by the federal government.
He said: “We are monitoring the negotiations between our representatives and government. There is likely to be some challenges which is normal.
“The government negotiating team is looking at what the government can pay conveniently but labour is also looking at what will be good for workers to avoid a situation where workers found themselves when the minimum wage was last increased. What happened then was that government came up with a block figure and out of poor negotiations because of insufficient time, a paltry sum was spread on workers’ salaries, translating into about a N900 increase monthly.”