New minimum wage talks may have been shifted until salary and promotion arrears owed civil servants are cleared, it was learnt yesterday.
Minister of Labour and Productivity Chris Ngige, Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Budget Office Director-General Ben Akabueze and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Comrade Ayuba Wabba met yesterday with the leadership of the National Assembly to find ways of clearing salary and promotion arrears of civil servants.
Also for discussion at the closed door meeting chaired by Senate President Bukola Saraki was the issue of payment of transfer allowances of workers and death benefits.
Ngige told reporters that they were at the National Assembly on the invitation of leadership.
He added that though some progress was made at the meeting, all sides were to go back and come back tomorrow with possible solution to the identified issues which is that “government does not have enough fund for now to tackle the issues”.
Ngige said: “We are here on the invitation of the National Assembly, the joint committee on labour and employment and the meeting is chaired by the Senate President.
“We are here to discuss issues relating to things that are meant for industrial harmony in the public sector.
“As you are aware, the labour federations have said the governors have not been treating them well.
“One of the cardinal issues of International Labour Organisation (ILO) is to give our workers decent jobs and we decided to discuss with them.
“We looked at the issues of salary arrears, promotion arrears, death benefits, location expenses and transfer allowances, hotel allowance, which overtime have accumulated and had run into billions and this is what is owed to federal public servants and we started the meeting today to find a solution.”
Asked why a new minimum wage was not top on the agenda, Wabba, who was almost walking away, described the process as “holistic”.
On labour’s demand, he said: “Labour has spoken with one voice. We have made a formal demand, which you are aware. It is N56,000, there is no need repeating it.”