Following the claim by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, that the unrealistic demand from senior civil servants is delaying the implementation of the new Minimum Wage, labour union has accused the government of being insensitive.
According to the Joint National Public Negotiation Council, which is representing workers in the negotiation with the Federal Goverment, the government introduced a new strategy to halt negotiation with the introduction of new figures to come up with its own template.
Recall that the Federal Government’s representatives in the technical committee set up to negotiate the consequential increase 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.
But the Secretary-General of the JNPSNC, Alade Lawal, has denied the Federal Government’s claim, saying that government has demonstrated its unwillingness to hold fair and healthy bargain with labour during negotiation.
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 JNPSNC secretary general added that while negotiation was on, the government introduced what he described as strange terms of reference which would ensure that whatever the committee arrived at as consequential increase must align with what was provided for in the 2019 budget.
“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.”