Labour writes states, set for minimum wage negotiations

The organised labour is set to commence discussions with the state governments on the new minimum wage for workers in their respective state vis-à-vis the recent agreements it reached with the Federal Government on the consequential adjustments.

Already, the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, which negotiated the consequential adjustments arising from the new minimum wage of N30,000 with the FG said on Tuesday that it had written to the state governments on the issue and directed the representatives of the workers’ unions to commence the negotiations.

The Secretary of the JNPSNC, Alade Lawal, said a draft of the letter to be sent to state governments was ready.

Alade, who spoke with journalists in Abuja after a meeting with the joint negotiating councils from all the 36 states of the federation, said although labour had yet to receive a circular from the Federal Government through the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, the council had improvised a replica suitable for the state councils to work within their negotiations.

He said, “Negotiations with state governments start anytime from today. We have agreed that the joint national negotiating council should send letters to state governments which will be sent tomorrow (today). The draft for the letter is ready.

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

According to the council secretary, the agreement with the FG is the minimum that all state negotiations must achieve, stressing that in some states where pay package is poor, percentage increase will be higher than what was agreed with the FG.

Alade 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 state towards ensuring that implementation is done.

“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.”

Also at the meeting, the JNPSNC gave major documents to the state councils that should guide them, with December 31, 2019 set for completion of all negotiations.

Chairman of the JNPSNC, Simon Anchaver, told journalists that the meeting with state councils was important because labour was eager to start negotiations with state governments, adding that any governor that acted against the wish of workers on the new wage structure implementation deserved to be impeached.

He said that it would not be difficult for the state governments to constitute negotiating committee since all members were principal government officers statutorily qualified to be on board.

He said, “We have enough resources in this country to cater for our welfare. You are aware that labour creates wealth and we will not allow politicians to distribute the wealth (among themselves alone). It must also be distributed to people that voted them into power.

“On the issue of timeline, we expect that all negotiations must be completed by the end of the last quarter of this year. If a governor is able to pay within one month, we will have no problem with that.

Implementation must take effect from April 18, 2019 when the New Minimum Wage Bill was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.”

“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 adjustments. I am sure the pressmen (journalists) already have it. We are expecting a circular (new wage structure table) from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission but we are being proactive. We have decided to develop a table on 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 on October 18, 2019. This was given to state negotiating council chairmen to serve as guide so that they can have a view of what it looks like when they start their own negotiations.”

Kaduna salary implementation to be reviewed

Also speaking on some of the states that claimed to have begun payment of the new wage, Anchaver queried the table adopted for the payment, saying that state negotiating councils in such states had been given the directive to review the claim.

He used Kaduna State, which claimed to have begun implementation in September for all categories of workers except those above level 14, as an example.

Anchaver said, “On the issue of Kaduna State, I think the governor has been a controversial one. The so-called negotiations and the implementation of the minimum wage he has done may be revisited along with other states. He will not get away with it. We must revisit it. We will send national officers to supervise the negotiations. That is part of the reasons for this meeting.”

Written by Olufemi Atoyebi, Abuja, Punch Newspapers