Nigeria Labour Congress to continue negotiations with government

By Chinyere OgbonnaShout-Africa Nigerian Correspondent – The Nigeria Labour Unions and the Federal Government have adjourned negotiations over modalities for the implementation of the national minimum wage till Tuesday, August 2, 2011.

Nigeria Labour Unions After a closed door meeting on Sunday night, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu told correspondents that all sides agreed for the negotiation to continue on Tuesday where implementation modalities would hopefully be concluded.

On his part, NLC General Secretary, Comrade Owei Lakemfa said the meeting agreed that no worker would be left out in the wage increase and says he is hopeful that negotiations would be concluded by Tuesday.

“What the government said on Saturday was that the minimum wage will be implemented across board. There will be no discrimination. There are no contending issues; it is simply about implementation.”

He pledged labour’s determination to ensure that all workers enjoy the new wage.

“The people know we are representing them. The Nigerian workers know we will never sell them. It is not about dictatorship. We will agree on some parts and see what we can do.”

Both central labour organizations met federal government’s delegation led by secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim on Saturday, but staged a walk-out when the government side insisted that only officers within grade levels one to three will enjoy a salary increment.

Government had earlier stated that only officers on levels one to six would enjoy a pay rise to meet up with the N18, 000 minimum wages, saying all officers who receive a monthly salary of N18, 000 and above will not be considered.

Shout Africa gathered that the meeting was adjourned to calculate the quantum spread for grade levels 01 to 16 by Tuesday.

Present at the meeting were, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; Wogu; Minister of Information, Labaran Maku; Head of Service of the Federation Prof. Afolabi Oladapo and the Chairman, National Salaries and Wages Commission, Chief Richard Ebgune, were at the meeting.

The workers’ representatives were NLC Deputy President Comrade Mohammed Kiri; NLC Chief Economist, Dr. Peter Ozon-Eso; NLC Acting Secretary General Comrade, Owei Lakemfa; NLC Head of Human Resources Emma Ugwaja and the Trade Union Congress Secretary General, Comrade John Kolawole.

The labour leaders had on Saturday walked out on the Federal Government representatives, which culminated in the joint negotiating team holding different press briefings.

Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who briefed reporters on behalf of the Government, said the labour leaders left the meeting because they had not reached an agreement with government on the issue.

He said: “Labour believes we should not address a joint press conference until all the issues are reconciled.”

In a joint press conference at the Labour House, the NLC, TUC said: “The Federal Government team declined to discuss scenarios worked out by the Joint Government-Labour team. Rather, it made an offer which was completely unacceptable to the Labour team.”

The statement, signed by Lakemfa and Kolawole said the labour team, to avoid a deadlock, urged the Government to re-consider its position and make a concrete offer.

On this basis, both sides decided to meet on Sunday, the workers hoped that both parties would reach a consensus tomorrow.