The Chairman of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) Chairman, Richard Egbule, blames the implementation of the “Consequential Adjustment” of the N30, 000 new minimum wage on the unrealistic demands by Labour unions.
Explaining why the Federal Government cannot accede to Labour’s request, the NSIWC boss said the workers’ demand would push the total wage bill too high.
He said: “Labour is asking for consequential adjustment and government in its wisdom had made budgetary provision for an adjustment of N10, 000 across board for those already earning above N30, 000 per month.
“However, the Unions have refused this offer, saying that because the increase in minimum wage from 18,000 to N30, 000 was 66 per cent, therefore they want 66 per cent increment across board.
“We told them that the minimum wage was not raised from N18, 000 to N30, 000 through percentage increase but as a result of consideration of economic factors including ability to pay.
“However, we said that if they want consequential adjustments in percentage terms, we will use a percentage that when applied will not exceed what has been provided for in the budget.
“The computation based on percentage which government had given to labour, was 9.5 per cent from level seven to 14 including level 1-6 of those salary structures that did not benefit from the minimum wage.
“And then five percent from level 15 to 17. Labour countered the offer and proposed 30 per cent increase for level seven to 14 and 25 per cent for level 15 to 17.
“One point we keep repeating is, it will be unfair that because you gave the person earning minimum wage N12, 000, you give a level 17 officer almost N100, 000 if you apply 25 per cent.”
Egbule said that at the last meeting between the Federal Government and the Labour unions, the government proposed a 10 per cent increment for level seven to 14 and a 5.5 per cent increase for level 15 to 17.
He called Labour to come to a compromise because government had so far been magnanimous in agreeing to increase salaries without any threat of downsizing.
Egbule said: “Labour is currently stretching out and eating up the time that people could have used in benefiting from the adjustment because the new minimum wage was implemented since April.
“My advice is for labour to accept the terms for now and prepare to fight for the harmonization of salaries that is coming up. Harmonisation of salaries will take care of this issue.
“The committee has already been formed and awaiting inauguration. I want them (Labour) to know this and liberate us from this unnecessary log jam.”
Egbule reiterated the commission’s commitment to giving sound advice to the government on the portion of national income that should be devoted to the payment of salaries and wages.