The lingering negotiation on the new minimum wage has become a source of worry to many civil servants. Some of the workers said the inability of the government to follow up with implementation since April 2019 when the new minimum wage was signed into law was detrimental to their welfare.
Nigerian workers have raised several issues connected to the ongoing negotiations between the government representatives and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council.
It would be recalled that on the 14th of May this year the federal government set up a technical committee to negotiate the consequential increase in the salaries of civil servants on various grade levels. At the first meeting of the committee the federal government had proposed 9.5 percent salary increase for officers on grade level 7 to 14 and 5 percent salary increase for workers on grade level 15 to 17.
However, the labour representatives demanded 30% salary increase for workers on grade level 7 to 14 and 25 percent increase for workers on grade level 15 to 17. Several meetings has been held thereafter but there was no agreement on the matter yet.
In an interview with Radio Nigeria, the Chairman Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Comrade Simon Anchabe, accused the government representatives of introducing what he describe as strange terms of reference that was not given when the committee was inaugurated.
‘It appears government is not ready because by the time it declares action everybody will be on board, the government representative said they were not given the mandate to add to the initially 10% and 5% for levels 7 to 17. So as it is we have no position to go further on this case, I am sure Mr. President will be consulted’.
On what transpired during the last meeting of the committee, the spokes man of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Mr. Emmanuel Njoku, explained that government had offered to pay 10% to grade levels 7 to 14 and 5.5 for grade levels 15 to 17.
Meanwhile some civil servants express frustration over the delay in the implementation of the new minimum wage and appealed to government to expedite action to get the wage implemented.
Implementation of new minimum wage is long overdue, Mr. President has signed this bill well over three months ago, for us not receiving it by now is actually disappointing. Going back again for another negotiation after the signing is uncalled for.
In the meantime, the Kaduna state government last Monday announced its resolution to begin the implementation of the new minimum wage starting from 1st of September, 2019.
While the waiting continues civil servants across the country hope that the committee will quickly agree on a workable consequential percentage increase so that their expectation on the minimum wage will not be dashed.
Economic Implications of Non Implementation of New Minimum Wage
The implementation of the new national minimum wage which aught to have commenced in April this year, four months after, the implementation has not commenced. What would have been the implication on the economy if the implementation had started since April.
Economic experts and analyst have submitted that looking at the economic indices in Nigeria; the poverty ratio and state of inflation, if the wage had been implemented since April, it would have inflated the economy to some extent by increase consumer demands, consumer demand will increase consumer spending and consumer spending also increases supply all through a value chain.
On the value of the currency, if you look at the last time the incomes were adjusted and you juxtapose that with the value of the currency you will find out that there is actually no increase, because the value of the Naira depreciated, so much so that workers are under so much stress in terms children school fees, house rents and market prices rising.
On whether the federal government’s proposed 10% and 5.5% increase for officers grade level 7-14 and 14-17 respectively, is reasonable, looking at the Genie Coefficient for income wage distribution indices for the country the focus of the government should be to increase the value of the currency so as to increase its purchasing power so the wage percentage increase can improve the living standard of the workers.
Without the implementation of the new national minimum wage the economy is losing much because it is supposed to have increased consumer spending, the countries aggregate spending increases, which increases demand and consequently supply of goods and services would have been increased as well.
On the arrears that are already pilling up as a result of the delay in the implementation of the new minimum wage, experts say that government must pay the arrears whether the implantation starts now or later, and by aggregation there will be an injection of over N4 Trillion Naira into the economy and that might create inflation.
The way out is that the implementation of the new minimum wage of N30,000 Naira should be holistic. It should be both public and private sector driven.