The Federal Government has blamed delay in the implementation of the “Consequential Adjustment” of the N30,000 new minimum wage on the unrealistic demands of labour unions.
Chairman, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Chief Richard Egbule, who spoke in Abuja, yesterday, explained that the current demand of the labour unions would raise the total wage bill too high and that was why government could not accept their proposed salary adjustments.
“Labour is asking for consequential adjustment and government in its wisdom had made budgetary provision for an adjustment of N10,000 across board for those already earning above N30,000 per month.
“However, the Unions have refused this offer, saying that because the increase in minimum wage from 18,000 to N30,000 was 66 per cent, therefore they want 66 percent increment across board.
“We told them that the minimum wage was not raised from N18,000 to N30,000 through percentage increase but as a result of consideration of economic factors including ability to pay. However, we said that if they want consequential adjustments in percentage terms, we will use a percentage that when applied will not exceed what has been provided for in the budget.
“The computation based on percentage which government had given to labour, was 9.5 per cent from level 7 to 14 including level 1-6 of those salary structures that did not benefit from the minimum wage.
“And then five percent from level 15 to 17. Labour countered the offer and proposed 30 per cent increase for level 7 to 14 and 25 per cent for level 15 to 17.
“One point we keep repeating is, it will be unfair that because you gave the person earning minimum wage N12,000, you give a level 17 officer almost N100,000 if you apply 25 percent,’’ he said.
Egbule said that at the last meeting between the Federal Government and the labour unions, the government proposed a 10 per cent increment for level seven to 14 and a 5.5 per cent increase for level 15 to 17.
He advised labour to come to a compromise because government had so far been magnanimous in agreeing to increase salaries without any threat of downsizing.
“Labour is currently stretching out and eating up the time that people could have used in benefiting from the adjustment because the new minimum wage was implemented since April.
“My advice is for labour to accept the terms for now and prepare to fight for the harmonisation of salaries that is coming up. Harmonisation of salaries will take care of this issue.
“The committee has already been formed and awaiting inauguration. I want them (labour) to know this and liberate us from this unnecessary log jam,” he said.
Meanwhile, Organised Labour has threatened to boycott tomorrow’s and Thursday’s meetings on the consequential adjustment due to the double standard position of the Federal Government.
This is even as the Organised Private Sector (OPS) warned that any industrial action by the Organised Labour on the contentious minimum wage could make the country recede into recession.
Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the President of the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU), Lawrence Amaechi in a telephone interview with the Daily Sun said government has never been serious with the implementation which forced the union to withdraw from the negotiation initially.
The Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) has advised the two parties to wrap up the negotiation, as continuous delay would be detrimental to the economy.
The Director General of NECA, Timothy Olawale warned that if the negotiation dragged on too long it may lead to workers going on strike, the action which he warned that the nation’s present economy cannot afford.
“We only came back to the meeting at the instance of Comrade Ayuba Wabba. But at the meeting, though we came with the 30 percent increase for levels 7- 14 and 25 percent for level 15 -17, we agreed to reduce to 29 and 24 respectively.
“On the other hand government who came with 9 percent and 5 percent for levels 7- 14 and 15-17 only added .5, which makes it 9.5 and 5.5 respectively.
“The figures were rejected by labour and we left the meeting with an agreement that the two sides should return to the meeting after sallah with an open mind.”
Amaechi, who is also a member of the committee said the leadership of the workers have been overwhelmed with various lies and accusations from the government and may as well suspended further meetings with the government.”