Nigeria: Minimum Wage – Labour Unions to Begin Negotiations With State Governments

The labour unions in Nigeria will formally write state governments on Wednesday and ask them to begin negotiation on the consequential adjustments arising from the new minimum wage.

The unions said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the end of a meeting of their states joint councils.

They also said the percentages in the agreement they had with the federal government will be the minimum they would accept from any state.

Under their agreement with the federal government, workers in the COMESS wage structure on salary grade level 7 got 23 per cent increment, grade level 8 got 20 per cent, grade level 9 got 19 per cent, grade level 10 -14 got 16 per cent while grade level 15-17 got 14 per cent.

For those on the second category of wages structures, CONHES, CONRRISE, CONTISS etc, Level 7 got 22.2 per cent, Level 8-14 got 16 per cent, while Level 15-17 got 10.5 per cent.

The secretary of the unions’ Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Alade Lawal, said the national leaders handed three documents over to the state negotiating council chairmen.

“The first one is the agreement we signed with the federal government on the consequential adjustment. We have decided to develop a table on consolidated public salary structure and the consolidated health sector salary arrangement.”

He said the documents were given to state negotiating council chairmen as a guide in their own negotiations in their states.

“The document will not hinder their negotiation with state governments. It is for the personal use of our members in the states, we are not forwarding it to the state governments,” he said.

“We are hopeful that by December 31, all negotiations should be wrapped up. In areas where we have difficulties, we have decided to move in as a group to shut down the space towards ensuring that implementation is done.”

FG agreement is minimum standard

According to Mr Lawal, the agreement of the unions with the FG is the minimum for the states.

“There are some states that have low salary structure, they have to discuss something higher than what we had with the FG.

“It depends on the peculiarity of the states. If you say 23.2 per cent increase for a level 7 officer in the federal civil service, it boils down to about N15,000. But if you apply the same percentage for workers on the same level in some states’ civil service, it translates to about N4,000. In that case, you have to be able to negotiate a higher percentage to be able to get something close to N15,000 we are talking about in this case and that is where the negotiation comes in,” he said.

“That is why we don’t want to give a blanket statement on what to do. With the discussion we have with the state officers, they know what to do,” he said.

“We also shared with the state council chairmen our experiences, the intrigues to be involved, the blackmail, the need for them to be honest and resilient. I want to believe that they are well guided on the process,” he said.

December 31 deadline

Also speaking, the national leader of the negotiation, Anchaver Simon, said the unions had given state governors December 31 as the deadline for implementation of the new minimum wage consequential adjustment.

He said any governor who does not want to pay should be impeached

“Any governor that is saying he will not pay; I think that governor stands to be impeached.

“We have a benchmark, we have a template, this particular agreement will be taken to the states for implementation.

“For Kaduna State, levels 15 to 17 were not captured. The issue of Kaduna, the governor has been a controversial governor. The so-called implementation of the minimum wage in Kaduna will be revisited, we’ll be sending a national officer to the state, they should go along with other states.”

State chairman speaks

Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, the Kano State Joint Negotiation Committee, Hashim Saleh, said there is no problem from level 1 to 6. “However, they have not paid yet until we finish the consequential adjustment.

“We wrote to the state government for proper implementation, the government is looking at it now and there is (in place) all necessary machinery from the government side and the labour side for the possibility of implementing the agreement,” he said.

State government’s grouse

The NGF chairman, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, had said the agreement between the federal government and organised labour on the consequential adjustments was not binding on state governments.

Mr Fayemi said while the state governments had accepted the N30,000 baseline, each will negotiate with its workers on the implementation and the consequential adjustments.

Mr Fayemi assured that there would be consequential adjustments but that would be determined on a state by state basis.

He said the agreement and directive between the government and labour leaders only applies to federal workers.

Long road

President Buhari signed the new minimum wage bill into law on April 18. But its implementation has been stalled over salary adjustments and disagreement between the labour unions and government representatives.

Specifically, the problem centred on the issue of relativity and consequential adjustments of salaries for various categories of workers.

The federal government then argued that the minimum wage was for junior-level workers (levels 1 to 7) and that salary increase for other categories of workers would have to be negotiated.

On May 14, the federal government inaugurated the relativity and consequential adjustment committee, which set up a technical subcommittee to work out a template for the adjustment of salaries of public service employees in line with the minimum wage law.

The controversy was resolved between both parties on October 18, following which FEC approved the implementation.

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