NGF, labour ex­change words over min­i­mum wage ne­go­ti­a­tions

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Olufemi Atoyebi and Ka­marudeen Ogun­dele

THE Nige­ria Gov­er­nors’ Fo­rum and labour on Thurs­day dis­agreed over the N30,000 min­i­mum wage ne­go­ti­a­tions in the 36 states of the fed­er­a­tion.

The Chair­man of the NGF, Dr Kay­ode Fayemi, af­ter the fo­rum’s meet­ing on Wed­nes­day night, said all states had started ne­go­ti­a­tions for the con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments on the new min­i­mum wage.

He said labour lead­ers might not be aware of the sta­tus of ne­go­ti­a­tions in all the 36 states of the fed­er­a­tion.

But labour said Fayemi lied when he said ne­go­ti­a­tions had started in all states, adding that many gov­er­nors were avoid­ing the min­i­mum wage talks.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and labour had on Oc­to­ber 18 con­cluded ne­go­ti­a­tions on the N30,000 min­i­mum wage con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments, which be­gan on April 18 with the Pres­i­dent, Ma­jor Gen­eral Muham­madu Buhari (retd.), sign­ing the bill on the new salary struc­ture into law.

At the Oc­to­ber 18 meet­ing, both the FG and labour agreed on 23.2 per­cent­age in­crease for work­ers at grade level 07; 20 per cent for those at grade level 08; 19 per cent for work­ers at grade level 09; 16 per cent for those at lev­els 10 to 14; and 14 per cent for work­ers at grade lev­els 15 to 17.

Fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of ne­go­ti­a­tions at the fed­eral level, labour di­rected its state chap­ters to be­gin talks with state gov­er­nors on con­se­quen­tial ad­just­ments.

But on Fri­day last week, the labour lead­ers said state gov­er­nors were avoid­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions. Also on Tues­day, The PUNCH ex­clu­sively re­ported that eight states: Ogun, Gombe, Cross River, Rivers, Plateau, Kwara, Anam­bra and Oyo had yet to set up ne­go­ti­a­tion com­mit­tees.

How­ever, Fayemi, who is also the Ek­iti State Gov­er­nor, faulted the labour lead­ers say­ing gov­er­nors had all set up pro­cesses of ne­go­ti­a­tion in var­i­ous states.

The gov­er­nor, in an in­ter­view with jour­nal­ists af­ter the NGF meet­ing, said, “The min­i­mum wage is a set­tled mat­ter. Gov­er­nors have all in­di­cated, with­out any equiv­o­ca­tion, that we sub­scribe to the act of par­lia­ment that has been passed on the na­tional min­i­mum wage of N30,000. There is no de­bate; we have ac­cepted that.

“The ne­go­ti­a­tion is not about min­i­mum wage. It is about con­se­quen­tial in­cre­ment on the higher lev­els. Each state started that process, if the Nige­ria Labour Congress is not fully aware of the sta­tus of the ne­go­ti­a­tion in the var­i­ous states, we will be happy to share the in­for­ma­tion avail­able to us with them.

“But as far as we are con­cerned, there is no op­por­tu­nity for the NGF to back­track. We are not back­track­ing from the min­i­mum wage. How­ever, fin­gers are not equal. States have to ne­go­ti­ate the con­se­quen­tial im­pli­ca­tions.

“There may be states that may pay as much as N50,000, what we can tell you is that no states will pay less than N30,000.”

NGF not say­ing the truth – NLC sec­re­tary gen­eral

In an in­ter­view with one of our cor­re­spon­dents on Thurs­day, Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the NLC, Em­manuel Ug­boaja, said it was wrong for Fayemi to say all gov­er­nors had started ne­go­ti­a­tions on the new min­i­mum wage.

Ug­boaja stated that the De­cem­ber 31 labour gave states to con­clude ne­go­ti­a­tions had not changed, adding that work­ers would take de­ci­sions af­ter the dead­line.

He stated, “It is wrong for gov­er­nors to is­sue a sweep­ing state­ment and said ev­ery­body is on the ne­go­ti­at­ing table. We don’t have such a re­port. It is not cor­rect (NGF state­ment). The gov­er­nors’ fo­rum is not stat­ing the truth. How could all states said they had started ne­go­ti­a­tions?

“All the 37 chair­men (states and Abuja) of the NLC and other unions met last week in Abuja and we clas­si­fied the ne­go­ti­a­tion sta­tus in all states into three groups: those who have com­pleted ne­go­ti­a­tion, those that are meet­ing and those who have not met at all.

“We have done our work and is­sued a state­ment on our po­si­tion. What we are wait­ing for now is feed­back from our state coun­cil ex­ec­u­tives.

“If by De­cem­ber 31 there is no con­crete agree­ment, we will re­spond in trade union ver­sion.on Fri­day (to­day) we will do a re­view of the process and see what the sce­nario looks like. We will look at who is on the ne­go­ti­at­ing table and who is not there.”

$29.6bn loan re­quest, an FG af­fair – Govs Af­ter the NGF meet­ing, Fayemi re­fused to com­ment on the $29.6bn loan re­quest by the Pres­i­dent to the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

Fayemi said, “The bor­row­ing plan is for the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and not a fed­er­a­tion bor­row­ing plan. The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s bor­row­ing plan to the Na­tional As­sem­bly is a mat­ter be­tween the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and the Na­tional As­sem­bly. It is not some­thing we want to put our­selves in; we don’t want to com­ment on that.”

Read­ing a com­mu­niqué af­ter the meet­ing, Fayemi said the fo­rum re­ceived an up­date from the Au­di­tor Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion and the World Bank team on the State Trans­parency, Ac­count­abil­ity and Sus­tain­abil­ity In­de­pen­dent Ver­i­fi­ca­tion As­sess­ment ex­er­cise con­ducted across states.

He stated, “The in­de­pen­dent ver­i­fi­ca­tion as­sess­ment team high­lighted among oth­ers, ac­tiv­i­ties of the fi­nan­cial year 2018 an­nual ap­praisal as­sess­ment to be con­cluded in Jan­uary 2020 while the trans­fer of 2018 grants to states will take place in March 2020.”

Fayemi said the NGF would in March 2020 hold re­gional work­shops on the as­sess­ment and be­gin the pro­vi­sion of tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to states through train­ing, ex­change vis­its and peer learn­ing events.

He added that the fo­rum re­ceived a pre­sen­ta­tion from the Min­istry of Fi­nance, Bud­get and Na­tional Plan­ning, on the “Ge­o­ref­er­enced In­fra­struc­ture and De­mo­graphic Data for De­vel­op­ment pro­gramme in Nige­ria.”

Fayemi ex­plained that the pro­gramme was de­signed to strengthen the ap­pli­ca­tion of geospa­tial data for ev­i­dence-based de­ci­sion mak­ing in the coun­try.

“The Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor of GRID3, Inuwa Yaua, high­lighted sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions of the pro­gramme in pri­or­ity ar­eas of gov­ern­ment in­clud­ing food se­cu­rity, health cov­er­age, fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion, sur­vey and de­mo­graph­ics and ed­u­ca­tion,” he added.

Fayemi also said, “State gov­er­nors com­mended the Min­istry of Fi­nance, Bud­get and Na­tional Plan­ning for co­or­di­nat­ing the GRID3 pro­gramme, which will be cen­tral to de­vel­op­ment-plan­ning go­ing for­ward.”

The NGF chair­man said the fo­rum would work “with the min­istry by pro­vid­ing the in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments in all states to en­sure that each state sup­ports the gen­er­a­tion and man­age­ment of geospa­tial data.”

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