Minimum wage: NLC releases state negotiation guidelines next week

The Nigeria Labour Congress said on Thursday that its state chapters would get the guidelines for the negotiations with their various state governments on the consequential adjustments on the new minimum wage by next week.

The acting President of NLC, Amaechi Asuguni, disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH shortly after the closing ceremony of  the NLC 2019 National Leadership Retreat held at Nike Lake Resort, Enugu.

The retreat was held after the Federal Government and organised labour agreed on the consequential adjustments at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday last week.

Both parties agreed on 23.2 percentage 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 for workers at grade levels 15 to 17.

The agreement was reached 182 days after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new minimum wage bill into law.

Before the agreement, labour was demanding a 29 per cent salary increase for officers at grade level 07 to 14, and 24 per cent adjustment for officers at grade level 15 to 17.

But the Federal Government offered 11 per cent salary increase for officers at grade level 07 to14, and 6.5 per cent adjustment for workers at grade level 15 to 17.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum had on Wednesday told The PUNCH that more than 20 states were ready to pay the N30,000 minimum wage.

But Asuguni, who is first Deputy President of the NLC, said state chapters had been directed not to rush into negotiations with their governments.

He added that the table on the consequential adjustments on the N30,000 new minimum wage would have minimum benchmarks to ensure that there would not be  staggered agreements by states.

Asuguni said,  “The outcome of this conference is that the agreement has been reached, a table will be worked out at the federal level and sent to the states.

“We want a table that will be brought out to be guidelines so that state councils will not go and start formulating different tables, so that there will be a minimum standard.

“That is our position, that  the headquarters of NLC will guide the states so that they will work within the benchmark of the table so that we don’t have a staggered or any how agreement by the state government and the labour,” he appealed.

The labour leader, who advised the Nigerian workers to be patient, said it would not have been possible for the union to have come out with the guidelines at the end of their retreat in Enugu, saying that it required a lot of work to calculate the differentials.

“We urge the workers to be patient, it has not been easy to reach the agreement, and having reached the agreement, we need some people to put certain things in motion to come out with the table.

“You can see the percentages, they are different, with different categories of levels. So it will be worked out holistically, you don’t just rush. This table hopefully by next week will come out. It is not something to be rushed out.

“We want the workers to be patient, the patience they had while the negotiations lasted they should have that patience. The agreement has been signed, the consequential adjustments agreement has also been signed and we are just waiting for time for implementation,” he said.

The acting NLC  president warned that the organised labour would not going to take easy with any state that would fail to implement the new minimum wage as was signed by the President.

“Well it is unfortunate if any state refuses to comply with the new minimum wage, labour is there to engage them by all legal means,” he said.

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