The Joint National Public Negotiation Council has said the template introduced by the Federal Government for the implementation of the new minimum wage can only impoverish workers and not better their lot.
The JNPNC, which is the workers’ representative in the negotiation for the new minimum wage, said this following the position of the Federal Government that unrealistic demand from senior civil servants is delaying the implementation of the new Minimum Wage.
The position of the Federal Government was revealed on Monday by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita.
The Secretary General of the JNPSNC, Alade Lawal, said the government has demonstrated its unwillingness to hold fair and healthy bargain with labour during negotiation.
According to Lawal, considering the state of the economy, what the Federal Government tabled as proposal as consequential increase during negotiation that broke down would only make workers poorer.
He said: “The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation was not saying the truth.
“The whole world knows that we started negotiation with the government with open hands, hoping that we would be accorded same by the Federal Government’s representatives in the committee.
“At a stage, government became unrealistic considering all variables that had taken place in our economy.
“What the government is putting on the table will only make workers poorer.
“Some of the actors on the side of government think they know more than everybody.
“This is why we are where we have found ourselves today.
“It is the government that is delaying implementation for obvious reason that it is not ready to pay what is reasonable to workers.
“That clause about 2019 budget alignment was not part of the terms of reference given when the committee was inaugurated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on May 14.
“We were not consulted when government decided on the figure and inserted it in the budget.
“How then can that figure be the benchmark for our negotiation?
“That means that government had decided on what it wanted to pay and only wanted us to rubber-stamp it.
“In that case, why opening negotiation with labour on the minimum wage?
“If the Federal Government already knew the figure, then there was no need for bargaining.
“However, in labour matters and industrial relations, collective bargaining is a key process in ensuring fairness.
“These are questions Nigerians must ask government.
“When it was taking too long for the government to set up the negotiating committee, we warned that the arrears could scare government from fair negotiation.
“That is what we are experiencing now.”
Lawal also accused the Chairman of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Richard Egbule, of acting beyond his powers when he allegedly said that payment of additional salaries to workers who were earning above N30,000 already would begin from the day that the agreement would be struck.
He said: “He is being arrogant with his statement.
“He cannot dictate to us and his statement means that some of them do not mean well for this administration.
“Posterity is there to judge.
“They should decide what side of history they want to belong.”