State chairmen of the Nigeria Labour Congress will on Tuesday (tomorrow) meet in Enugu to discuss modalities to be adopted for negotiations on consequential adjustments of the new minimum wage with various state governments.
This meeting is coming after the conclusion of talks between organised labour and the Federal Government.
The Chairman of the Kwara State NLC, Issa Ore, who disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said the meeting would produce guidelines for negotiations of the adjustments in various states.
He said, “All the chairmen of the NLC in the 36 states have scheduled a meeting for Enugu on Tuesday where we are going to discuss modalities which we are going to adopt for negotiations of the new minimum wage for our members in each state. It is when we return from the meeting that we are going to start negotiations with the state governments.”
Also, his Enugu State counterpart, Viginus Nwobodo, confirmed the meeting in an interview with one of our correspondents, saying, “I will be hosting a retreat of all the 36 state chairmen of the NLC in Enugu on Tuesday and the issues of the minimum wage consequential adjustments will be discussed as they relate to states.”
Negotiations in states begin this week
The two labour leaders said this just as there were indications on Sunday that negotiations with state governors would begin this week.
The Federal Government and organised labour had on Thursday agreed on the percentage increase on the consequential adjustments in workers’ salaries as a result of the new minimum wage of N30,000.
Both parties had agreed on 23.2 per cent increase for workers at grade level 07; 20 per cent for those at grade level 08; 19 per cent for workers at grade level 09; 16 per cent for those on levels 10 to 14; and 14 per cent increment for workers at grade levels 15 to 17.
They reached the agreement 182 days after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new minimum wage bill into law.
While the Kaduna State Government began the implementation of the new minimum wage in September, others said they were awaiting the conclusion of negotiations at the federal level.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi, had in an interview with journalists in Lagos on October 13, said the country could not meet specific demands of organised labour on the salary adjustments.
Before Thursday’s agreement was reached, labour demanded 29 per cent salary increase for officers at salary grade level 07 to 14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers at salary grade level 15 to 17. The Federal Government had presented a proposal of 11 per cent salary increase for officers at grade level 07 to 14 and 6.5 per cent adjustment for workers at grade level 15 to 17.
Fayemi, who is also the Ekiti State governor, had wondered where the country would get money to meet the demand of labour.
But labour leaders in various states said workers would not accept anything less than what their counterparts at the federal level would earn under the new wage increase.
In Enugu State, the NLC Chairman, Nwobodo, told The PUNCH that organised labour in the state would meet on Friday to discuss the consequential adjustments on the minimum wage.
Nwobodo, who spoke in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said, “After the meeting of the organised labour in the state, we will formally write the state government with the new minimum wage.”
On his part, the state Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Chukwuma Igbokwe, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that leaders of the TUC in the 36 states would meet to discuss the issue.
“We are expecting a meeting of all the 36 state leadership with the national leadership of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council to receive directives on the next action for states,” he stated.
In Ondo State, the NLC said the state government must adopt the formula agreed on by the Federal Government.
The state Chairman of the union, Mr Sunday Adeleye, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Sunday, said the union had written to the state government on the issue.
He said, “We have already written to the government and the last time I checked, the government did not tell us that they had low financial income. So, we are not going lower than what the Federal Government has agreed and our governor has not said the state does not have money to pay.”
In his comments, the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo, said the state government had set up a committee on the payment of the new minimum wage.
The Katsina State Chairman of the NLC, Hussaini Hamisu, on his part, said the state NLC had yet to be formally informed by the NLC headquarters on the consequential adjustments.
He said once the letter was received, the labour union in the state would write the state government after which negotiations would begin on the consequential adjustments.
The Sokoto State NLC Chairman, Umar Ahmed, who spoke to one of our correspondents said, “We will not settle for anything less than what has been agreed at the national level because the state and federal workers patronise the same market.”
Kwara to hold independent negotiations with workers
The Kwara State Government said it would negotiate with workers. The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “ We are going to hold independent negotiations with the representatives of organised labour and we will start the payment immediately we agree.”
But the Chairman of the NLC in the state, Issa Ore, said workers’ demand in the state would be higher than what was agreed on at the federal level.
“On our part in Kwara State, we are going to get more than what the labour got at the federal level,” he said.
The state TUC chairman, Kolawole Olumo, said the union was expecting the official template for the new minimum wage.
This, he said, would determine the time the negotiations with government would start.
When contacted, the Osun State NLC Chairman, Jacob Adekomi, said Governor Gboyega Oyetola had been promising that he was ready to pay the new minimum wage to workers.
But in Ekiti State, the Commissioner for Information, Muyiwa Olumilua, said the state government was still looking at the agreement at the national level and its capability.
Olumilua said, “We are still looking at it. We have already agreed to pay the N30,000 minimum wage. The percentages agreed by the Federal Government last week might not be in consonance with what we planned for. So, it is something we still have to look at.”
But the state TUC Chairman, Sola Adigun, said the state government and organised labour would, through a negotiation committee to be set up, work on an agreeable minimum wage for workers in the state.
Adigun said, “I believe the state government can even pay more than those percentages. We will look at the reality on the ground and we will look at the demands of our leaders. We will agree on whatsoever that we know will benefit both sides.
“The Joint Negotiating Council will do the negotiation. So, just like what happened at the national level, the JNC is primarily in charge of that negotiation. The TUC chairman and the Nigeria Labour Congress chairman will only intervene when we realise that the negotiation has broken down.
“The organised labour will work together to make sure that we get the right thing for Ekiti workers. The leadership of organised labour, as critical stakeholders in Ekiti, will not do anything inimical to the progress of an average worker in Ekiti and Ekiti citizens. So, when we get to the negotiation table, the state government will bring its proposal, then workers’ position will be submitted and there will be bargaining.”
On its part, the Anambra State Government said it would first meet with the labour leaders in the state before arriving at a decision on the development.
The Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C-Don Adinuba, stated this on Sunday in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents.
But the NLC chairman in the state, Jerry Nnubia, said it would not be possible for the state government to pay anything below what was agreed upon at the federal level.
Plateau, labour differ on new wage
Meanwhile, the Plateau State Government and the state chapter of the NLC have disagreed on the consequential adjustments on the new minimum wage.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Dan Manjang, said because of the state’s lean financial resources, government would meet with labour and negotiate how to implement the new minimum wage.
Manjang said, “We don’t have any problem with the payment of the new minimum wage, but we have to sit down with the labour leaders and agree on how to generate the revenue to make it possible. Government has consistently said it will pay if the funds are available.”
But the state Chairman of the NLC, Mr Eugine Manji, said labour would not accept any downward negotiation from the state government.
Manji said, “The new national minimum wage has become a law since April 18, 2019 and we in Plateau State are not prepared to start fresh negotiations aimed at reducing the amount with the government .”
In Rivers State, however, the state Chairman of the NLC, Mrs Beatrice Itubu, explained that the state government would not have any issue paying the consequential adjustments approved by the Federal Government.
Itubu recalled that Governor Nyesom Wike had promised that he would pay whatever amount that was agreed between the Federal Government and labour.
Also in Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde said there was nothing to worry about on the adjustments released by the Federal Government.
Makinde’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Taiwo Adisa, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “The governor has promised to negotiate with the workers and he will not hide anything from them.”
The state NLC Chairman, Bayo Titilola-Sodo, said, “The NLC will have a retreat in Enugu where an acceptable table will be given to us and we will accordingly write to the state governor.”
But the Chairman of the state TUC, Emmanuel Ogundiran, said there was nothing to renegotiate in the new minimum wage.
He said, “Nobody can go below the new wage. It is only the maximum that will be different. We won’t accept a percentage that will just add little amount to what workers are currently collecting as minimum wage.”
Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the Cross River State governor, Mr Christian Ita, said his principal, Ben Ayade, had said once the modalities had been worked out by the government, he would be willing to pay.
The state NLC chairman, Benedict Ukpepi, said there would be no downward review of the new minimum wage in the state.
But the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, said the decision to implement the new minimum wage for the state civil servants would be determined by the NGF.
The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said the issue of new minimum wage would be decided by the forum.
He stated, “We have no different position and we can’t do otherwise. So, we are relying on the NGF’s decision to act on the matter. Whatever the Nigeria Governors’ Forum says is what the Benue State Government is saying.”
Efforts to get the state chairman of the NLC, Godwin Anyan, were not successful as his phone did not connect.