Minimum Wage: Buhari is not sincere – Labour

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NLC President, Comrade Wabba

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru 

ABUJA – The Organised Labour has accused the Muhammadu Buhari Administration of not being sincere by alleging that Labour is responsible for the delay in the implementation of the new N30,000 Minimum Wage.

Chairman, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Chief Richard Egbule, had accused Labour of delaying the implementation by rejecting the offer by the government, but Labour has said that everything will be a product of negotiation and not giving out peanuts in the name of consequential adjustment.

The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said that the NLC and the TUC were no longer involved in the details of negotiation on the Consequential Adjustment, but the Joint Public Service Negotiation Council that will have the details.

He said, “For now, we are not part of that discussion and we will not be able to have the details.”

However, Secretary of the Joint Public Service Negotiation Council, Comrade Alade Lawal, said that the information that Labour was responsible for the delay in payment of the new minimum wage was not correct.

According to him, “He is being economical with the truth; he is the Secretary of the Committee negotiating Consequential Adjustment and by the name of that committee, the mandate of that committee is to negotiate the right consequential adjustment arising from the minimum wage. For someone to rise and say Labour is rejecting what government wants to offer is not correct.

“You can’t award when you are negotiating. Two parties are there; they will look for what is appropriate. The point is they want to give peanuts to workers and Labour is saying no.

“That since 2011 when that one-hundred naira was added to public servants’ pay, not a single dime has happened to wages and you know full well that the purchasing power of workers’ salaries, particularly those in the public sector, is nothing to write home about because we have had series of devaluation.

“Then, it was N160 to a dollar, and now it is N360 to a dollar. We had this petroleum price increase which was from N87 per litre to N145 per litre, and there are a lot of challenges that have happened to the Nigerian economy.

“You know full well that when they increased the fuel price, they promised heaven on earth to dissuade Labour from protesting, that they were going to adjust the minimum wage, they were going to do palliative and a Committee was set up with Labour participating to come out with palliative measures to ameliorate the effects of the price increase.

“You know full well that not a single thing was done for Nigerian workers, all the promises failed. What they wanted to do was to give N5, 000 to each employer. We say why do you that because between 2011 and 2019 you want to give N5,000. We should negotiate and agree on what is meaningful and what is realistic; and we have been on that. We met before the holidays and we are supposed to meet again on Wednesday and Thursday, that is the Technical Committee.

“So, for him to now come over and say that it is the Labour that is delaying the implementation of the minimum wage, I think it is high time government turned its searchlight on that office.”

On the claims that the wage bill will be too much with the demand of Labour on the consequential adjustment, he said, “What we are saying is that the budget is not cast in stone. We are not the ones that did the budget. They didn’t consult us; how can you put a figure before you come to negotiate? You get an answer, you now want people to work out a question that will fit the answer?

“Which government will not have the money, where do they get the money that they are spending frolicking from one part of the world to another? They are telling lies. Which money will they not have? Even when they put N158 billion in the budget, minimum wage is supposed to commence on the 18th of April, meaning that N158 billion is for eight-and-a-half months.

“So, since what you are talking about in the negotiation is about a year. So, you can’t be talking about N158 billion; you should be talking about N230 billion which means you are coming up.

“He is deceiving people. The figure he is parading as the number of employees in the public service is fake. It is not correct. He said there are about 1.3 million in the public service. We are saying prove it, give us details MDA to MDA, so that we can cross-check. He is playing a dangerous game.” (Vanguard)

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