By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Yemi Osinabjo says President Muhammadu Buhari‘s administration will honestly and transparently resolve labour’s request for salary increase to other level of workers yet to benefit from the new national minimum wage.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said the vice president passed the message at a meeting with the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The TUC team was on a courtesy visit to Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The team was led by the new President of the union, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, while Labour and Employment Minister, Dr Chris Ngige was also at the meeting.
The vice president commended the labour leaders’ engagement with the federal government.
“Your coming today indicates your willingness to work with government; you should consider the president as someone committed to the welfare of workers.
“One of the first things he did when we came in was to give states a series of bailouts to help repay backlog of salaries in several States.”
Osinbajo said that the government refused to ignore the situation and instead provided different facilities including Paris club refunds and budget support loans to provide immediate succor to states.
On the contentious issue of salary increase, the vice president said that labour must find ways to work with government to resolve the issue transparently.
“Let us give ourselves room to negotiate properly; the president wants an honest, open process, we will be transparent and honest about it. labour leaders should give us the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
Osinbajo assured the leaders that the federal ministers all had a mandate to ensure job creation opportunities, while government also work on creating an enabling environment for the private sector to create jobs.
In his contribution, Ngige disclosed that the new national minimum wage was already being paid by the federal government and assured that the arrears would also be settled.
The minister said the salary increase that labour was now asking for was a “consequential adjustment” arising from the implementation of the new minimum wage.
“While the new minimum wage covered salary grade levels 06 and below, the adjustment being demanded now is for salary increase of the other grade levels from 07 above,’’ he said.
Earlier in his remarks, Olaleye called on the federal government to effect the salary increase, and also take steps to deal with security matters in the country.
Olaleye advised the vice president to remain focused on his constitutional duties.
“You have achieved more especially with the quarterly business forums you hold and you should not relent.
“Posterity will judge you fairly,” he said.
By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The Lagos Times (Nigeria)