Minimum Wage: Labour Directs State Councils To Commence Negotiations With Governors

Labour
Labour unions protest over minimum wage

Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) has given state governors Dec. 31, as the deadline for implementation of the new minimum wage.

Consequently, the Council has directed its state councils to begin negotiations for consequential adjustment and implementation of the new minimum wage with their governors.

The Chairman of the Council, Mr. Simon Anchaver at a meeting in Abuja noted that the Union had adopted the deregulated collective bargaining style to ensure that state governments also negotiate what they can afford, so long as it was not lower than the N30, 000 benchmarks.

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According to him, “Any governor that said he’ll not pay stands to be impeached.”

Also, the Secretary-General of the JNPSNC, Mr Alade Lawal, noted that the Union had agreed with it’s state councils to start sending our letters to state governments, saying negotiations ought to start upon receipt of such letter.

“Negotiation with state governments starts anytime from today, we have agreed that the joint national negotiating council should send letters to state governments which will be sent tomorrow, the draft for the letter is ready.

“We will first send it to our members’ email addresses in the states and then we will send the hard copy to the state governments, Negotiation starts immediately after the receipt of the letter.”

Lawal said the council was still expecting an agreed template from the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), to act as a guideline to states for onward negotiations.

“There are three documents handed over to the state negotiating council chairmen, the first one is the agreement we signed with the Federal Government on the consequential adjustment. I am sure the press already has it.

“We are expecting a circular from the National Income, Salaries and Wages Commission but we are being proactive. We have decided to develop a table on a consolidated public salary structure and the consolidated health sector salary arrangement.

“This is like a replica of the table that we are expecting from the NISWC based on the agreement that we signed with the FG. This was given to state negotiating council chairmen to serve as a guide so that they can have a view of what it looks like when they start their own negotiation in their states.

“It, however, does not serve as the circular we are expecting from the Federal Government through the NISWC.

“The FG will still issue the circular in respect of the new wage structure so the one we have done is not binding but just a working document between us and our counterpart in 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.

“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 space towards ensuring that implementation is done.”

The secretary-general expressed hope that the negotiations in the state level would not go beyond the agreed benchmark, noting that the national minimum wage was the lowest anyone would go.

“The agreement we had with the FG is the minimum for the states. Some will go beyond it but no one will go below it.

“There are some states that have a low salary level. They have to discuss something higher that what we had with the FG. It depends on the peculiarity of the states. If you say 23.2 percent increase for a level seven 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 state 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. That is where the negotiation comes in.

“There are different peculiarities in states and 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.

“These are what we discuss at the meeting. We also shared information and data on some of the statistics that I told you about.

“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 possible resistance from the state government, Lawal said, “we will cross that bridge when we get there”.

NAN reports that after the Federal Government agreed on consequential adjustments and percentage increase for workers in the Federal civil service with organized labor on Oct. 18, the joint negotiating council in each state is expected to open negotiation with its state government.

However, state governments under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum had said that they would only pay according to the financial standing of their respective states.

NAN reports that those on COMESS wage structure, Grade level 7 gets 23 percent, Salary grade level 8 gets 20 percent, Salary grade level 9 gets 19 percent, Salary grade level 10 -14 gets 16 percent while Salary grade level 15-17 gets 14 percent.

While those on the second category of wages structure, CONHES, CONRRISE, CONTISS, etc, Level 07 get 22.2 percent, Level 08 to 14 get 16 percent while Level 15 to 17 gets 10.5 percent. (NAN)