We’ll get state govts to pay higher minimum wage ― NLC

• Start leadership retreat in Enugu

The leadership of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has assured Nigerian workers, especially those at the state levels that they would work to ensure that some of the state governments pay higher than the Federal Government approved benchmark of N30,000 national minimum wage, as well as its consequential adjustments.

The congress gave the assurance, even as it declared that the next battle line for the minimum wage consequential adjustments and its implementation negotiation would be at the state level.

The NLC, which will commence its Leadership Retreat in Enugu on Tuesday, however, said it was not automatic that the state governments must implement exactly the Federal Government template on the consequential adjustments.

The General Secretary of NLC, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, who spoke exclusively with Tribune Online said while some states will pay higher, while some will pay lower, adding however that the Federal Government template would serve as a guide.

After three days marathon meeting between the Federal Government and organized Labour on the protracted issue of consequential adjustment arising from the N30, 000 national minimum wage, government and Labour agreed on 23.2% salary adjustment for workers on grade level 7; 20% for grade level 8; 19% for grade level 9; 16% for grade level 10-14; and 14% for grade level 15-17, for those in the core civil service.

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For other categories of workers in the public service, government and Labour agreed on 23.2% for grade level 7 or equivalent; 16% for grade level 8-14, and 10.5% for grade level 15-17.

But the NLC General Secretary said the approved templates was not cast in stone for the state government to implement, saying that the congress would begin the battle at the state level to get some of them to pay more, even as he admitted that some states may not be able to meet up with the same template.

He, however, emphasized that whatever each state pay must be a product of collective bargaining as all laid down processes would be followed to arrive at unanimous agreement.

Comrade Ugboaja said: “The next battle line is at the state level. Undoubtedly, the states are where the next battle lies. Like the minister said, he said that they would communicate to the states to help guide them. We are also going to do the same to our own state structures to help guide them.

“We expect our people at the state level to work on that, some might be able to get their government to do better, some might get lesser package but our attitude is each one must be a product of collective bargaining.”

On whether it is compulsory that all states must follow and adopt the template from the federal level, he said: “No. It has never been automatic that you must implement what the Federal Government does. Some states do higher, some do lower but it serves as guide.”

He expressed satisfaction at what labour was able to achieve with the Federal Government, saying, “sure, we are very satisfied with what we got in the circumstances we are.

“There is no rule that says wage review will not happen even next year. What we did was to get some consequential adjustments with regards to the minimum wage, but workers still reserve the right to demand negotiation for improvement in their wages at any time they perceived the economy is doing well and can accommodate new wage level.”

Meanwhile, the NLC begins its 2019 National Leadership Retreat with a theme: “Strategic Leadership and New Challenges in the Future of Work.”

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