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NGF, labour exchange words over minimum wage negotiations

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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 “Geo-Referenced 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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