Despite meeting for about nine hours to conclude negotiation over consequential adjustment in workers’ salaries as a result of the new minimum wage of N30,000, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Federal Government are yet to reach an agreement.
The body has also maintained that there was no declaration of strike yet.
The meeting began after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday and ended at 2:00 a.m. on Thursday. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, told journalists that specific jobs had been given to some committees that must be submitted before the negotiation could be deemed completed. H also disclosed that the meeting would reconvene 7:00 p.m. on Thursday.
He noted that both parties have agreed on what they couldn’t agree on areas hitherto.
“We are adjourning the meeting. We are giving the assignment to people on both sides and they are going to do the work and get back to us. The work involved is enormous. We are giving them the entire day to get back to us; issues of money and wage adjustment with different wage structures. We have 12 different wage structures presently in Nigeria.
“We don’t want to make a mistake that would be fatal thereby put the whole exercise in jeopardy. We have consensually agreed that we will reconvene this meeting at 7:00 p.m. today. This will enable those that we give assignment to complete them and get back to us. We are okay with the meeting moving on smoothly. It is very cordial. We disagreed on various issues but we have agreed.”
Also speaking, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said that Nigerians would be given details of the negotiation and concessions made after the rescheduled meeting.
While dismissing claims that both parties had settled for certain percentage increase inconsequential adjustment, Wabba said it was a collective bargaining process that has lasted long.
“Some progress has been made but we have not been able to conclude and have collective bargaining agreement. Some committees need to do some computation. We have worked up to early hours of today. That is in the true spirit of collective bargaining. That is what we have to do to get the process concluded and conclude the process.”
Speaking on planned industrial strike, Wabba said since the ultimatum issued to the Federal Government which elapsed at the close of work on Wednesday could not be a way of going on strike since negotiation was still on, adding that it was not in labour practice to disrupt it with such action.
He added, “In collective bargaining, if a meeting is adjourned, you should know that that is not our practice (declaring strike). Our practice is that until we are able to conclude the issues, we will be able to inform them (Nigerians) appropriately, but not midway when we are making progress. We cannot abruptly disrupt the process. At the appropriate time we should be able to give details.”
Wabba said the major issues remaining in the negotiation were percentage increase and implementation by the government.