Despite advocating an increase in the country’s minimum wage last April, the federal government has not been able to begin its implementation as labour unions differ on how to calculate percentage increase across all levels of public service.
The federal government had stated, in addition to the adjustments of the minimum wage of those who are already on level one to level six to reflect the new minimum wage, a consequential salary adjustment of N10,000 per month across the board for all the harmonised salary structure to ensure equity.
This gave rise to the additional cost implication of N158,771,830,326.00 per annum, which has already been captured in the 2019 budget.
According to a source, if the government accepts labour proposals, the resultant additional cost would be about N500,813, 183,739.00 per annum which is far above the budgeted sum.
However, labour leaders are adamant that officers on level seven to 14 should also get an additional 30 per cent of their salaries, while those on level 15 to level 17 should have 25 per cent of their current monthly earnings added to their salaries.
“You can’t give an absolute figure for a minimum wage increase,” Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress, Mr Musa Lawal.
“It is a percentage issue and we told them right from time. It is a question of percentage. Somebody who was on N18,000 who moves to N30,000, what is the difference? It is the percentage difference we are looking for; anything short of that is zero and we are not taking it. That is the position of labour.”
Lawal, also noted that it was incorrect to say previous minimum wage reviews had not reflected percentage as increase as labour is now demanding.
“They had a table that ensured that no one was cheated,” he stated. “If they present the table, we will look at it, but they have not presented the table. As it is now, what the federal government is offering is useless and cannot be taken. They should give us paperwork on what they are saying and we will respond officially.”
At a final meeting of the committee set up by the federal government to negotiate the implementation structure last Thursday, government and labour representatives could not agree on a definite percentage.
The meeting was a follow up to the inaugural meeting of the committee held in May. The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, is the chairman of the committee while Chief R. Egbule, Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, is the Secretary.
Ten representatives of Trade unions nominated by the Joint National Public Service Negotiation Council are members of the committee.
The government said if it implements labour’s demands, those on GL 08 Step 1 who are earning N666,184.00 per annum would now earn N866,039.00 and those on GL 17 Step 1 earning N4,183,600.00 would earn N5,229,500.00.
According to the source, this demand poses the problem of equitable adjustment in salaries occasioned by the new minimum wage. It would then mean that while those on level 1-7 get additional N12,000 per month, those on GL 08 Step 1 would get an increase of N16, 654.58 per month and GL 17 Step 1 gets N87,158.33 per month.
If Labour was concerned about the plight of Nigerian workers, there is no reason why it should reject government proposal of N10,000 increase for those at the top while those below get N12,000, the source posts.