Nigerian govt blames labour for delay in implementing minimum wage

The Nigerian government has attributed the delay in the implementation of the “Consequential Adjustment” of the N30, 000 new minimum wages to the unrealistic demands of labour unions. The Chairman, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Richard Egbule, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.

Mr Egbule explained that the current demand of the labour unions would raise the total wage bill too high and that was why the government could not accept their proposed salary adjustments. “Labour is asking for consequential adjustment and government in its wisdom had made budgetary provision for an adjustment of N10, 000 across the board for those already earning above N30, 000 per month.

“However, the Unions have refused this offer, saying that because of the increase in the minimum wage from 18,000 to N30, 000 was 66 per cent, therefore they want 66 per cent increment across board. “We told them that the minimum wage was not raised from N18, 000 to N30, 000 through percentage increase but as a result of consideration of economic factors including ability to pay.

“However, we said that if they want consequential adjustments in percentage terms, we will use the percentage that when applied will not exceed what has been provided for in the budget. “The computation based on the percentage which the government had given to labour, was 9.5 per cent from level 7 to 14, including level 1-6 of those salary structures that did not benefit from the minimum wage.

“And then five per cent from level 15 to 17. Labour countered the offer and proposed a 30 per cent increase for level 7 to 14 and 25 per cent for level 15 to 17. “One point we keep repeating is, it will be unfair that because you gave the person earning minimum wage N12, 000, you give a level 17 officer almost N100, 000 if you apply 25 per cent,’’ he said.

Mr Egbule said that at the last meeting between the Federal Government and the labour unions, the government proposed a 10 per cent increment for level seven to 14 and a 5.5 per cent increase for level 15 to 17. He advised labour to come to a compromise because the government had so far been magnanimous in agreeing to increase salaries without any threat of downsizing.

“Labour is currently stretching out and eating up the time that people could have used in benefiting from the adjustment because the new minimum wage was implemented since April. “My advice is for labour to accept the terms for now and prepare to fight for the harmonisation of salaries that is coming up. Harmonisation of salaries will take care of this issue.

“The committee has already been formed and awaiting inauguration. I want them (labour) to know this and liberate us from this unnecessary log jam,” he said. Mr Egbule reiterated the commission’s commitment to giving sound advice to the government on the portion of national income that should be devoted to the payment of salaries and wages.

Labour union react: Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview, the national president of the Assosciation of Senior Civil Servant of Nigeria, Bobboi Kaigama, said the union’s stance is that the committee on special adjustment should be fair to all categories of workers. According to him, the government is offering 9.5 percent for salary grade level 7 to 14 and 4.5 per cent for level 15 to 17 which is very insignificant. “The minimum wage is N30,000 and there are officers on Salary grade level 15 to 10 and they want a very insignificance increase for the upper level and we are saying Nk. Our position is that N30, 000 for level 7 to 14 and N25 for level15 to 17,” he said.

Mr Kaigama, a former president of the Trade Union Congress, said the labour unions are still in the process of negotiation. “So we hoped that by the end of the month, an agreement is reached,” he said.

Speaking on the harmonisation of salaries, Mr Kaigama said the union hopes that the current increase will be an integral part of the harmonisation.

Pix: Labour camapaining for new minimum wage