Minimum wage: Enough is enough, labour tells FG, threatens nationwide strike

The trade union side of Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) has commenced mobilisation of workers across the country over the federal government’s ‘unwillingness’ to implement the N30,000 national minimum wage signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The workers accused the committee, set up early last month by the government to work out the consequential adjustments arising from the new national minimum wage, of playing games with the intent of scuttling its implementation.

They said this Monday in a statement jointly signed by the Acting Chairman and Secretary of JNPSNC, Comrade Anchaver M. Simon and Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal respectively.

The workers said they were set for a showdown with government if they failed to implement the new wage.

The JNPSNC said: Alarmed by persistent government’s efforts to derail the implementation of a new national minimum wage, organised labour has commenced mobilisation of its members nationwide to prepare them for the next line of action.

“Operating under the aegis of the Trade Union Side (TUS) of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), the eight (8) unions in the public services of the Federal and 36 state governments have alerted Nigerians that labour may have to embark on industrial action if the current state of affairs as regards the issue of consequential adjustment arising from the new national minimum wage of N30, 000.00 per month remains the same.”

It said, the committee on consequential adjustment of salary had agreed to set up a technical body to work out different scenarios in respect of salaries that would be paid to workers in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) drawing their emoluments from the government treasury. 

The workers further said the technical committee met severally and series of computations to be presented for the plenary for consideration were developed.  

“All was going on well until the government side came up later with their usual magic and ambush all aimed at scuttling the whole exercise.”

The labour leaders stated that the TUS had initially proposed that since the minimum wage was increased by 66.66%, i.e. from N18, 000.000 to N30, 000.00, salaries for officers on Grade Levels 01-17 should be adjusted accordingly to maintain the relativity that exists in the salary structure in the public service.

“But when the government side argued that such increase across board would raise the total wage bill too high, the trade union side reviewed its demand downward and eventually settled for 30% for officers on Grade Levels 07-14 and 25% for those on Grade Levels 15-17.  

“The government side on its part was insisting on 9.5% salary raise for employees on Grade Levels 07-14 and 5% for those on Grade Levels 15-17,” the union stated. 

The two (2) sides then agreed to capture the two positions in the technical committee’s report which will now be presented for discussion at the plenary.

 The TUS said it  “received a rude shock at the last meeting of the technical committee when the government side began to hold on to a non-existent position that the technical committee’s term of reference was to base its assignment in respect of salary adjustment on what was provided for the subject in the 2019 budget.  This is very incorrect and unfortunate.”

It said the implication of government’s position was that the technical committee cannot go beyond what the government was pushing for which is 9.5% salary increase for officers on GL 07-14 and 5% for those on GL 15-17.

“The implication of this is that government has a predetermined position and only called labour in to rubberstamp its hidden agenda.

“With this turn of event, it is quite clear now that some fifth columnists in this administration are hell bent on pushing President Muhammadu Buhari to enter into a collision course with millions of Nigerian workers in the public service.  This is very sad,” the union stated.

 The TUS recalled that after the Ama Pepple committee recommended N30, 000 monthly new national minimum wage, “the government side went to the press to announce that the negotiation was inconclusive and thereafter sent N27, 000  and N30,000 monthly national minimum wage proposal to the National Council of State and the National Assembly and the latter approved N30,000 as the new monthly national minimum wage before President Buhari signed it into law on 18th April, 2019.”

“It is indeed perplexing that political office holders whose monthly take home pay runs into millions of Naira are the ones working behind the scene to ensure that Public Service employees especially core civil servants continue to receive starvation wages.

“This is why the eight trade unions in the public service have resolved that enough is enough and that if the federal government fails to call its officials to order and direct them to negotiate openly the issue of consequential adjustment arising from the new national minimum wage, millions of workers at the federal and 36 states’ public services will have no other alternative than to take some necessary Trade Union actions to seek redress.  The time for President Buhari to act is now,” the union also said.

TUS calls meeting

Meanwhile, a meeting of officials of the TUS of the JNPSNC across the federation is being arranged with the sole aim of setting the records straight and at the same time preparing for appropriate trade union measures to be deployed to get justice for public service employees.

“We make bold to say that payment of a fair and modest salaries to workers consequent upon the new national minimum wage of N30,000.00 per month is not a favour being done to the workers but what they deserve to receive for their selfless service to their fatherland”

FG keeps mum

All efforts to speak with officials of the Ministry of Labour and Employment Monday  proved abortive, as a call put through to the assistant director press of the ministry, Mrs Rhoda Iliya was not answered.

Our reporter sent her a text message that read thus: “Please ma, we want to find out if the ministry is aware of mobilisation of workers over delay in minimum wage implementation? What is the ministry doing to avert strike?”

She responded saying, “It’s raining heavily, I will find out tomorrow from the office.”

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