Bimbola Oyesola, James Ojo
After three days of intense meetings, Organised Labour and Federal Government, yesterday, reached a truce on the consequential adjustment of the new N30,000 minimum wage.
The agreement signified that Organised Labour would no longer go ahead with the proposed strike.
The meeting of the committee, which was hurriedly organised by the Federal Government to forestall labour from proceeding with its planned strike after the expiration of the ultimatum, had been on since Tuesday October 15.
Labour had threatened a nationwide strike after October 16, should the Federal Government fail to reconvene the committee on the consequential adjustment and take a positive position on the implementation of the new wage.
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Ayuba Wabba in his message on October 7, at the Global Day for Decent Work, had warned that workers wanted payment to begin at the end of October.
However, at yesterday’s meeting, the Federal Government presented a new table of what it could offer as an increment for different cadre.
The government offered 23.2 percent for officers on level 7; 20 percent for level 8; 19 percent for level 9; 16 percent for levels 10 – 14 and 14 percent for levels 15 – 17.
One of the committee members told Daily Sun, last night that the figures had been proposed to the labour team since Wednesday, but was turned down by workers in the health sector.
“That was the reason we were given the table to go and deliberate on and return yesterday for further discussion.”
Health workers wage had earlier been adjusted, hence government was not ready to give them the same percentage as other workers.
He explained that the leadership have prevailed on health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU), hence the acceptance of the government offer.
“We believe that there’s no reason to go on strike and disrupt the economy as we are already making progress in our discussions. We started with 29 percent for level 7 – 14 and 24 for 15 – 17, when government offered 11 and 6.5 respectively. But later we came down to 25 and 20. So, we believe it’s a good bargain for our members.”
On Tuesday, the meeting which started at 3pm lasted for about six hours and adjourned till Wednesday as labour refused the offer from the government side.
Daily Sun gathered then that government had offered to pay level 07 – 14, 17 percent and 15 -17, 12 percent.
Also on Wednesday, the two sides could not come to terms on what should be the percentage increase to be added to the other cadre in relation to the consequential adjustment.
The meeting which commenced at 5 pm on Wednesday also dragged to 2am on Thursday before the two sides decided to adjourn till 7 pm yesterday.
Speaking in a telephone interview after Wednesday’s meeting, Mr. Lawrence Amaechi, president of the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU), who is also a member of the National Joint Negotiation Council (NJIC) said members of the committee had been divided into groups for specific assignment.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, equally explained that the contentious issues then was about figure and wage adjustment.
On Wednesday, it was gathered that government came up with a new template creating three formula.
Before now, government had offered level 7-14, 11 percent and 15 -17, 6.5 percent, while labour wanted 29 percent for 7 – 14 and 24 percent for 15 -17.
The Organised Private Sector (OPS) has commended the two sides for reaching amicable solution and saving Nigerians and the economy from untold hardship.
The Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) had earlier called on Organized Labour to exhaust all mechanisms of social dialogue and to allow the National Industrial Court to adjudicate if the tripartite dialogue failed.
Meanwhile, Chairperson of NLC in Lagos, Mrs Funmi Sessi, has said workers were anxious to receive the new minimum wage without any further delay.
She said payment of the new minimum wage would be a win-win situation not only for workers but also for the government as it would result in improved productivity and wealth creation.”
She spoke on the sidelines of the 10th Quadrennial State Delegates Conference of the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Lagos State Chapter, in Lagos, yesterday.