Minimum wage palaver: Labour set to strike

Labour under the aegis of the Trade Union Side  (TUS) of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) Tuesday said strike remained the only option to get government to implement the N30, 000 minimum wage signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The workers after a breakdown of negotiation on the consequential adjustment of the new wage with government Monday, said they will give no further notice to the federal government before millions of its members at the federal and 36 states public services begin strike over the of the new national minimum wage.

The trade union side of the Joint Public Service Negotiation Council (JNPSNC) in a statement signed by the acting chairman, Comrade Anchever Simon, and the secretary, Comrade Alade Lawal Bashir, urged the public to hold government liable for strike” since they are frustrating the implementation of the new wage.”

“The implement the new N30, 000 monthly national minimum wage signed into Law by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 18, 2019, with appropriate consequential adjustment, had been frustrated by government side.

“The Consequential Adjustment Committee two weeks ago agreed that the proposal of the TUS that salary of officers on grade levels 07-14 should be increased by 29% and those of officers on grade levels 15-17 by 24% vis-a-vis that of government Side of 10% for officers on grade levels 07-14, 5.5% for those on grade levels 15-17 should be forwarded to President Buhari to see the patriotic position of labour and approved appropriate consequential adjustment accordingly.

“When the meeting reconvened on Monday, September 16, 2019, to get a feedback on the expected approval from Mr. President, the government officials brought a fresh proposal of 11% pay-rise for officers on grade levels 07-14 instead of its earlier position of 10% and 6.5% for those on grade levels 15-17 instead of the former 5.5%,” the Labour leaders said.

‘Govt not serious’

The union further stated that what had become clear was that the government side was not serious about paying millions of workers a new national minimum wage and adequate consequential adjustment, but preferred taking the trade unions for a ride.

It stressed that as a responsible trade union, the TUS had given the government enough time to come to term with workers demand but it appeared that the only language necessary for government to act was a strike.

The union recalled that initially it recommended 66.6% across board in order to maintain existing relativity in emoluments of Public Servants, but the government side argued that the wage bill would be too high.

“Consequently, the TUS scaled its demand downward by suggesting that officers on grade levels 07-14 should receive 30% pay rise while those on grade levels 15-17 should get 25%, the government side proposed 9.5% for grade levels 07-14 and 5% for grade levels 15-17.

“Both parties agreed thereafter to forward the two positions to the plenary session of the enlarged Consequential Adjustment Committee for consideration.”

The union leaders also said to their surprise, when the committee reconvened on June 27, 2019, the government side introduced a strange clause and argued that the term of reference of the panel was to apply the subhead of emoluments contained in the 2019 Budget across board to pay the minimum wage which the TUS objected to.

“It is difficult to understand why the political appointees who cart millions of naira away every month are determined that Nigerian workers must not get N30, 000 monthly minimum wage with fair consequential adjustment. 

“As we write, Nigeria is rated the poorest country in the whole world and yet government is refusing to implement a minimum wage for Nigerian workers to lift millions of citizens out of poverty,” the Union regretted.

Stakeholders urged to intervene

It called on conscientious eminent citizens, royal fathers, religious leaders, and civil society groups to plead with the Federal Government to implement the new National Minimum Wage with adequate consequential adjustments to avoid the looming industrial crisis. 

Meanwhile, the TUS stated that the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had been briefed on the breakdown of negotiation in respect of consequential adjustment arising from the new N30,000 monthly national minimum wage.

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