The latest in the series of the minimum wage negotiations between organized labour and the Nigerian Federal government have again been deadlocked, local media reported Sunday.
The resumed talks on Saturday in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, were deadlocked after the labour delegation walked out on the other party at a joint press conference they were to address.
Labour is demanding that government pays the minimum monthly wage of 18,000 naira (US$ 120) across board to all civil servants but government said it was ready to pay only core civil servants on salary grade levels 01 to 06, a position government has again shifted from — saying it will now pay only levels 01 to 03.
According to the media reports, the negotiations took a dramatic turn Saturday as the labour delegation walked out of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and never returned.
After both sides ended their meeting, they were supposed to address a joint press briefing to announce that their negotiations would continue Sunday.
However, after both sides had been seated for the press briefing, the labour leaders suddenly stood up and filed out of the conference hall to consult among themselves.
But the labour delegation, led by the Deputy Presidents of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Mohammed Kiri, and Trade Union Congress (TUC), Musa Tolly, never returned to join the government delegation, led by SGF Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
Reports say only the Acting General Secretary of the NLC, Owei Lakemfa, and the General Secretary of TUC, Comrade John Kolawole, were sent to inform the SGF that the labour delegation would not address the press conference with the government delegation.
Addressing journalists later, the Minister of information, Mr. Labaran Maku, said that the Federal Government had agreed to implement the new minimum wage for workers on levels 01-03 in the public service.
Maku said this was because government had engaged in wholesale wage review for public servants, last year, adding that the wage increase amounted to a 54.46 percent addition for the public servants.
According to him: “Last year’s wage review increased the Federal Government’s wage bill from 973 billion naira to 1.5 trillion naira which represented an increase of about 500 billion naira”.
According to the minister, the only area of disagreement was that labour wanted a wage review that would apply across the board to all public servants.
At Labour House, officials said nothing was achieved during the talks on Saturday and according to Lakemfa, who read a statement jointly endorsed by himself and Kolawaole of the TUC , “the NLC and TUC have not seen any light at the end of the tunnel but hope that the Federal Government will make a genuine offer at the resumed negotiations Sunday”.
They explained that both umbrella labour unions had agreed to continue negotiations with the Federal Government Sunday to avoid a deadlock.
“The Federal Government team declined to discuss the three scenarios worked out by the joint government-labour team. Rather it made an offer which was completely unacceptable to the labour team,” the joint statement said