Expressing dismay over the delayed conclusion of the consequential adjustment negotiations since the implementation of a new minimum wage in April, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the negotiations be fast tracked and a deadline fixed to ensure workers begin to take home a new pay.
President Buhari had signed a new minimum wage into law on April 18, 2019 however, negotiations between the government and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSC), have not only stalled severally, but had broken down due to unresolved differences in their proposals.
The last negotiations which was supposed to hold on September 4, was on Tuesday suspended and rescheduled to hold on September 16 at the instance of the officials.
While the Federal Government proposed 9.5 per cent salary increase for employees on grade levels 07 to 14 and five per cent for those on grade levels 15 to 17, labour is demanding 30 per cent increase for officers on grade levels 07 to 14 and 25 per cent increase for grade levels 15 to 17.
Addressing the leadership and members of the Labour Correspondents Association of Nigeria (LACAN) in Abuja, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said Buhari who was worried over the continued delay, also directed the setting up of a presidential committee on salaries and wages to receive complains and review salaries and work schedule as well as assign appropriate salaries to different categories of workers.
According to him, the continued delay was improper as State governments were anxious for the negotiation team to complete its job in order to avoid a situation of having a huge back log of arrears when the consequential adjustment is finally concluded.
“The new minimum wage which the President signed in April, it is a pity that after signing it, May came and a lot of us were sent on compulsory leave.
“We are now coming back from the leave. If you remember, a committee was set u and I was a member. When we left, the Permanent Secretary took our place an were negotiating with the Joint negotiating Council on the consequential adjustment.
“The states are waiting for that and it is not proper for us not to fast track that negotiation so that even the states will not have too much back log to pay when the consequential adjustment is concluded.
“We have our own budgeted for in the 2019 budget and we are going to also budget for it in the 2020 budget. We are concerned about the states because some of the states are not proactive like us. So, the sooner we conclude at the federal level and the Joint Negotiating Councils in the states takes it from there and negotiate with the states, the better for everybody. If we spill this into next year, I am not sure how many states that will be able to pay the backlog which will lead us to another round of negotiation.”