By Shola Abayomi.
The minimum wage negotiation committee set up by the Federal Government to review the consequential adjustment occasioned by the new minimum wage is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Thursday, June 6, three weeks after its inauguration and just a week before its job is meant to be completed.
INSIDER earlier reported that Organised Labour had accused the federal government of deliberately stalling the negotiation, expressing apprehension that the delay may accumulate the wage bill beyond what the government will be willing to pay; a situation which might prompt the government to reduce the amount.
The Secretary of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, Alade Lawal, had earlier insisted that it was not necessary to wait for new ministers to be appointed before commencing negotiations, as according to him, permanent secretaries in the ministries relevant to the negotiation were competent enough to negotiate on behalf of the government.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, who chairs the negotiation committee, confirmed the date of the meeting. She disclosed that the meeting was actually scheduled to hold on Tuesday (today) but was postponed to Thursday because of the public holiday.
A member of the committee who spoke to newsmen on condition of anonymity revealed that permanent secretaries would represent ministers at the inaugural meeting.
He said, “Finally, a date for the inaugural meeting has been fixed for Thursday, June 6, 2019 at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Permanent Secretaries from various ministries will act in place of the ministers that were appointed to be on the board. That is governance. That is the way a government should run state business.
“Government must not allow a vacuum to delay state matters because there is always a provision in the constitution for someone to act on behalf of government. During the tripartite committee meetings on minimum wage, most of the time, the ministers were represented by the permanent secretaries.
“They made good representation. They are in custody of the technical details because they are always in government even when there are no ministers. They have all the details. It takes a minister up to one year to understand business of a ministry, so we cannot be waiting for that. Enough time had been wasted on this issue”, he emphasized.