Minimum Wage: Labour, FG Resume Negotiation, TUC Rejects Lowered Demands

General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, said on Saturday that the Federal Government and labour representatives on the technical committee set up to negotiate consequential increase arising from the new minimum wage would resume negotiation this week.

After negotiation broke down between the government and labour on what workers at various grade levels would get as salary increase, the NLC, Trade Union Congress and the Joint National Public Service Negotiation Council wrote separate letters to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, complaining of introduction of new terms of reference by the Federal Government team that were not in the document presented by the SGF when he inaugurated the negotiating committee on May 14, 2019.

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On Wednesday, the SGF and representatives of JNPSNC met in Abuja where issues that led to the breakdown of negotiation were discussed.

While the Federal Government representatives in the technical committee had proposed 9.5 per cent salary increase for workers on Grade Levels 07 to 14 and five per cent increase for employees on Grade Levels 15 to 17, labour representatives were demanding 30 per cent salary increase for workers on Grade Levels seven to 14 and 25 per cent for workers on Grade Levels 15 to 17.

In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, Ozo-Eson said, “We wrote a letter to the SGF. We understand he is stepping in and negotiation will reconvene during the week.”

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Also in an interview with our correspondent on Saturday, President of TUC, Quadri Olaleye, said the union would not support lowered demands during negotiation. He said labour’s demands from the Federal Government were not outrageous, blaming the Federal Government’s representatives for not coming up with what he described as a reasonable proposal.

He said, “TUC will not support lowering labour demands on the issue of the new minimum wage. We have to understand clearly that labour unions are not greedy in their demands. We don’t have to make a demand that will make governance difficult. But we have to recognise negotiation and understanding on both sides.”

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“If the Federal Government through its representatives on the technical committee that is negotiating consequential increase in labour wages comes up with a reasonable percentage increase, even if it does not favour labour, I don’t think we will have any option but to show understanding because of the present situation of the nation’s economy. It is not compulsory that all requests must be granted but it must be reasonable and there must be understanding before an agreement will be signed and sealed in a document.”

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