Organised labour has berated the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, for saying the federal government is planning to sack some workers in the public service.
Naija News reports that Ngige had told labour leaders in Abuja that a total of N580 billion is needed to meet labour’s demand on the new minimum wage.
He also revealed that the Federal Government has been avoiding a situation where it would have to sack workers, noting that throwing workers into unemployment would add to their burden.
The minister pleaded with labour to accept the consequential adjustment from levels 7 to 17, adding that the government had only three months left to implement the new wage.
He stated that the government would not promise labour what it could not pay, noting that no worker deserved to be owed salary.
Reacting on Friday, the Secretary, Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), Alade Lawal, faulted claim by Ngige that government would require N580 billion annually to pay workers the minimum wage across board as demanded by labour.
He told The Nation that, “We don’t subscribe to that. If they like, let them come to the negotiation table so that we can reach an agreement and implement so that everybody can move on. If they like, let them leave it.
“They will say they can’t meet labour’s demand because they are not doing their homework. How will they say it is not feasible (to meet labour’s demand?).
“The figure they are parading is not correct. They don’t need N580 billion. They don’t need it to implement the minimum wage.
“The number of employees in the federal public service is not up to one million. They say it is 1.33 million. Let them disaggregate it and tell Nigerians. Break it down and let us do verification.
“The component part of these 1.33 million employees they are talking about is the consolidated public salary structure which majorly is domiciled under the IPPIS platform.
“As we speak, the employees there are not up to 70,000. They said in their own papers they are using for negotiation is 183,000. Where do they get all those things from?
“Because you want to negotiate something now you come to negotiation table and you start playing with figures. It is so sad. They think they are talking to the labour of pre-independence. Some of them are just lucky to be there. It is not that they are better than some of us.”
He insisted that Labour would not back down on its percentage increase demand from government for workers on levels 7-14 and levels 15-17.
“Up till now, they have not reached out to us. They are the owners of the knife and they also have the yam with them, so they can do it the way they like. But if this is the way we want to run our country, then I am sorry, because we have a long way to go.
“You know where we started from. We started from 66.66 per cent across board because the minimum wage was increased from N18,000 to N30,000, an increase of 66.66 per cent.
“So we said apply that across board. They cried that the federal government would not be able to pay. For levels 7-14, we came down to 50 per cent. Then for levels 15-17, 40 per cent, but they said they cannot pay.
“We came down again for levels 7-14, 40 per cent and levels 15-17 30 per cent. They cried loud and said they could not pay. We came down again; levels 7-14, 35 per cent, levels 15-17 30 per cent. Again, they said they cannot pay. We came down again. Levels 7-14, 30 per cent, levels 15-17, 25 per cent, yet they said they cannot pay before we came down to this 29 per cent for levels 7-14 and 24 per cent for levels 15-17.
“To start talking about going down now will make us look unserious; that is the meaning.”