‘Disagreement on implementation template may delay new minimum wage’

A disagreement between the Federal Government and organised labour on the template to use to work out consequential adjustment on wages may delay the implementation of the new national minimum wage.

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) President Bobboi Kaigama told The Nation on the side-line of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, that while the government wants an amount to be fixed across all levels, labour wants the adjustment to be done in percentages.

The immediate past Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had told The Nation that the government would run into trouble in the implementation of the minimum wage, if it carries out the consequential adjustment on percentage as the government would not have the money to implement it.

The government has set up a technical committee comprising of government representatives and officials of the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council to work out the template for the adjustment from Grade Level One Step II to Grade Level 17.

Kaigama, who threw his weight behind the call for a universal minimum wage – being canvassed by some world leaders at the 108th session of the global labour conference, assured workers that whenever the template is finalised, the government would be obliged to pay the arrears of the new wage.\

He said: “We are concerned that the template for the implementation of the new minimum wage is not yet out. It is one thing to sign the law proscribing minimum wage and another is the implementation because there are two bodies in charge of negotiations.

“But as soon as we finish this last leg, the effective date of the law is the day the President signed the bill into law. Rest assured that all employers of labour in Nigeria will have to pay the arrears. The President gave us one month to sort this out. But after setting up the technical committee, we discovered that there are hitches.

“So, we decided to go back and prepare some scenarios, then back and look at them before agreeing on one which will cut across all levels in the service.

“Government is of the opinion that we fix an amount across, but we believe that is not scientific. We believe we should take a percentage, even if that means you have to stagger it. We are preparing scenarios and at the end of the day, we hope to arrive at something.”

(The Nation)