By Bukola Olasanmi
Issues on the controversial minimum wage, especially the consequential adjustment, may soon be resolved.
The 36 state councils of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) have received directives from their national body to open negotiations with state governments on the consequential adjustments arising from the new minimum wage of N30,000.
The Secretary Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), Alade Lawal, broke the news yesterday in Abuja at the end of a meeting with officials of state councils.
Some of the joint council leaders at the meeting included the Acting Chairman of the JNPSNC, Simon Anchaver; its Secretary, Lawal; President, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Mr Josiah Biobelemoye; Hashim Salhi (Kano representative); Abubakar Malami (Sokoto) and Emecheta Chuku (Rivers).
Lawal said the meeting agreed that the Joint National Negotiating Council should send letters to state governments today to open negotiation on the consequential adjustments.
He said: “Negotiation with state governments starts anytime from today. We have agreed that the joint national negotiating council should send letters to state governments, which will be sent tomorrow (today). The draft letter is ready.
“We will first send it to our members’ email addresses in the states and then we will send the hard copy to the state governments. Negotiation starts immediately after the receipt of the letter.
“There are three documents handed over to the state negotiating council chairmen. The first is the agreement we signed with the Federal Government on the consequential adjustment. I am sure the press already has it.
“We are expecting a circular from the National Income, Salaries and Wages Commission, but we are being proactive. We have decided to develop a table on consolidated public salary structure and the consolidated health sector salary arrangement.
“This is like a replica of the table we are expecting from the NISWC based on the agreement we signed with the Federal Government. This was given to state negotiating council chairmen to serve as a guide so that they can have a view of what it looks like when they start their own negotiation in their states.
“It, however, does not serve as the circular we are expecting from the Federal Government through the NISWC. The government will still issue the circular on the new wage structure. So, the one we have done is not binding, but just a working document between us and our counterparts in the states.
“The document will not hinder their negotiation with state governments. It is for the personal use of our members in the states. We are not forwarding it to the state governments.”
The JNPSNC secretary said the council hoped that by December 31, all negotiations would have been concluded with state governments.
According to him, the agreement with the Federal Government on the consequential adjustment was the minimum for the states.
Lawal noted that some states could go beyond the agreement, but not below it.
He added: “We are hopeful that by December 31, all negotiations should be wrapped up. In areas where we have difficulties, we have decided to move in as a group to shut down the space towards ensuring that implementation is done.
“The agreement we had with the Federal Government is the minimum for the states. Some will go beyond it, but no one will go below it.
“There are some states that have low salary level. They have to discuss something higher than what we had with the Federal Government. It depends on peculiarity of the states. If you say 23.2 per cent increase for a Level 7 officer in the Federal civil service, it boils down to about N15,000.
“But if you apply the same percentage to workers on the same level in some state civil service, it translates to about N4,000. In that case, you have to be able to negotiate a higher percentage to be able to get something close to N15,000 we are talking about in this case. That is where the negotiation comes in.
“There are different peculiarities in states; that is why we don’t want to give a blanket statement on what to do. With the discussion we have with the state officers, they know what to do…”
Asked what the council would do on possible resistance from state government, he said: “We will cross that bridge when we get there.”