The Federal government has said there would be no implementation of the new minimum wage until salary and promotion arrears owed civil servant are cleared, it was learnt Monday.
This is coming as Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Director General, Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, met on Monday with the leadership of the National Assembly to find ways to clear salary and promotion arrears of civil servant.
Also on the table for discussion at the closed-door meeting chaired by Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, was the issue of payment of transfer allowances of workers and death benefits.
Ngige told reporters that they were at the National Assembly on the invitation of the leadership of the National Assembly.
He added that though some progress were made at the meeting, all sides were to go back and come back tomorrow with a possible solution to the identified issues which is that “government does not have enough fund for now to tackle the issues.”
Ngige said, “We are here on the invitation of the National Assembly, the joint committee on labour and employment and the meeting is chaired by the Senate President.
“We are here to discuss issues relating to things that are meant for industrial disharmony in the public sector.
“As you are aware the labour federations have said the governors have not been treating them well.
“One of the cardinal issues of International Labour Organisation (ILO) is to give our workers decent jobs and we decided to discuss with them.
Wabba on his own said, “We are here as usual to dialogue over a range of issues particularly the welfare and well-being of our members – the Nigerian workers. In particular, we have discussed issues bothering on arrears of allowances which have accumulated for some time and running into billions, which they have not paid.
“Also, alongside is the issue of pension particularly the issue of bonds and the fact that some of the contributions by workers have not been remitted for time.
“Those are some of the issues that we thought the National Assembly has led the process to bring all stakeholders on board and look at how these issues can be resolved in a win-win situation without allowing the industrial relation process to break up.
“I think this is very healthy and commendable, and all of us are committed to a very peaceful process of resolving these issues.
“As the minister said, we have adjourned to allow thorough reflection over some of those issues and to be able to come up with workable solutions that will address these issues.
“Those are the totality of issues we are actually working on and it is a holistic process which you know that the processes require laws; they also require some budgetary provisions.
“So, that is why we are here and the process is holistic, to look at how best those issues can be resolved amicably.”
Asked why the issue of new minimum wage was not top on the agenda of the meeting, Wabba who was almost walking away said the process is holistic.
On what labour is demanding, he said “Labour has spoken with one voice. We have made a formal demand which you are aware. It is N56, 000 there is no need repeating it.”
Wabba categorized new laws and budgetary provision to clear the backlog of the arrears.
“It’s a tripartite negotiation. What we are doing here is tripartite plus because we have involved the National Assembly and when you do any such negotiations is plus.
“We looked at the issues of salaries arrears, promotion arrears, death benefits, location expenses and transfer allowances, hotel allowance which over time have accumulated and had run into billions and this is what are owed to federal public servant and we started the meeting today to find a solution.
“The labour leaders engage ourselves and we try to work out something that would help them and help us restore the confidence we have with them that is the employers and employees.
“If we don’t have that confidence we may have breakdown of industrial harmony. So we made progress today and we have adjourned to reconvene tomorrow at 4 pm, all sides are to go back and come back tomorrow with a possible solution to the identified issues which is government doesn’t have enough fund for now to tackle the issues. So tomorrow we convey here and sort it”