Fed Govt to reconstitute minimum wage panel

- in World News

The Federal Government is to reconstitute its team on the Joint Public Sector Negotiating Council (JPSNC) on the implementation of the new minimum wage.

It was learnt that the team, headed by former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF) Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita may be reconstituted today.

Dropping the hint, Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige said the payment of the new minimum wage for all categories of workers (levels 7 to 17) would be sorted out soon by the Federal Government,

Dr. Ngige gave the assurance during a visit by labour leaders to his office in Abuja.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Ayuba Wabba led representatives of some major unions to a parley with the minister.

Ngige said that the Federal Government will involve the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to speed up the implementation of the new minimum wage to other levels of workers employed by the government.

He said: “The issue of the minimum wage will be sorted out for those other cadre and I am very hopeful that it will be done as soon as possible. The unions of the federation – the TUC and NLC — have not been involved. We will involve you when we come back so that we can have a speedy movement in this respect.

“It is unfortunate that the negotiation was deadlocked on that other level from seven to seventeen and the issue became on what percentage or slide they should use on a sliding scale. We are going to discuss and negotiate it.

“There must be consequential movement and government is not averse to doing the consequential movement. What we are saying is that we should try for all parties to agree that the economy is in doldrums and that the economy has some trouble and therefore, we will have to cut our coat according to our cloth. That is the important thing.”

On the planned reconstitution, Ngige said: “The logical thing for us to do, which the government has agreed, is to reconstitute our own representation of the JPSNC. They have handed over to us on where they stopped.

“Luckily, the president has also put in place a new committee called the Presidential Committee on Salaries and Allowances (PCSA).

“The state governments as at today are duty-bound. They now have the template to pay. When we reconstitute our committee, I don’t see us not agreeing. We can disagree but eventually, we will agree because we know ourselves. I am one of those who believe that a workman is due his wages. If you work in a vineyard you must eat from that vineyard and eat all the fruits that are viable there.”

Wabba appealed to the government to fast track the implementation of the minimum wage so that the entire workforce can benefit.

He said that labour would continue to push for the conclusion of all issues on the minimum wage by the government.

He said: “Few days ago, both the NLC and TUC have received a formal report in writing by the JPSNC informing us that negotiations have broken down and that they want our quick intervention. I think part of the intervention we can make is to use the opportunity of this meeting to see how this issue can be sorted out.

“Minimum wage in Nigeria was first enacted in 1981 and the processes are well spelt out. We have enough empirical data to guide both the committee and government to be able to sort out this issue in quick succession.

“Yes, there are challenges in the economy, but clearly , if you look at the condition of workers from when the last minimum wage was increased to where we are today, a lot of factors have affected their purchasing power, which I am aware have been shared at the tripartite negotiating process, which led to the agreement on the N30, 000 minimum wage.

“While you will be meeting with them on Friday, our plea is that this process can be fast tracked so that the entire workforce can benefit from it. I am aware that levels 1-6 has been effected.

“It is high time we tried to do away with this. I am aware that the process has delayed because the ministers responsible were not in place. Now, the relevant ministers are in place. I think we must also appreciate the workers.

“They have been very patient in this dealing and I think we will continue to ensure that this issue is actually addressed. Having gone this far, I think it is important for us to also conclude the process so that we can get this thing off our sleeves.”

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