Chris Ngige, the minister of labour and employment, has warned that delay in agreement for the full implementation of the new minimum wage of N30,000 may put the federal government and states in a difficult position to pay because of the backlog that will arise.
Although the federal government in August commenced payment for federal civil servants on levels one to six with the promise to pay arrears dating back to April 18 when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the bill into law, it had yet to reach an agreement with the organised labour on levels seven to 14.
Speaking when the executive of the Nigeria Labour Congress, led by the presidency, Ayuba Wabba, paid him a courtesy visit at his office in Abuja on Thursday, the minister said that a new government team would be constituted to open new negotiation with labour on the issue. He promised that although there could be disagreement in the course of negotiation, the government was committed to paying workers based on what the present economic reality could afford.
He said, “The issue of national minimum wage decision was very thorny, in the course of that, tempers flared and there were misgivings and all of that, but finally, we got to a standpoint that gave us 66.7 percent rise, from N18, 000 to N30,000.
“We told you that implementation will be smooth and immediately moved a memo to council and council approved it, and we put in a negotiating committee on government side, requested the Head of Service to contact the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council for us to start, and a committee was inaugurated in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in late April.
“I do not want to say that they (the committee) didn’t make progress, they made progress because at least, from levels from one to six, they got something, and from the time we were coming back, we saw that they were making progress, unfortunately, the Head of Service, the chair of that committee, had to go on a compulsory leave and it is not easy when some another person is going to act and move in.
“Luckily, President Muhammadu Buhari has also put in place a new committee, called Presidential Committee on Salaries and the former head of service reported to us on progress.
“It is important that we advise them that if they keep on piling debts, the FG might go into problem of payments, the state governments that have always not been regular with payments will have problem.”
Frontpage September 10, 2019