Minimum wage: Workers threaten strike without notice

Organised Labour under the auspices Trade Union Side (TUS) of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), has called on Nigerians to appeal to the Federal Government to implement the N30,000 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari as the minimum wage with adequate consequential adjustments, to avert a strike action.

In a statement issued on yesterday in Abuja,  the TUS Acting Chairman, Comrade Anchaver Simon, said it had become imperative to alert the general public that all efforts by the Trade Unions to persuade the government to implement the new wage signed into law since April had proved abortive.

According to him, no further notification would be given to the Federal Government before millions of its members at the Federal and 36 States Public Services down tools.

Simon gave details of the breakdown in negotiation saying: “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 per cent and those of officers on grade levels 15-17 by 24 per cent vis-a-vis that of Government Side of 10 per cent for officers on Grade levels 07-14, 5.5 per cent for those on Grade Level 15-17 should be forwarded to President Buhari to see the patriotic position of labour and approved appropriate consequential adjustment accordingly.

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“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 per cent pay rise for officers on Grade Levels 07-14 instead of its earlier position of 10 per cent and 6.5 per cent for those on grade levels 15-17 instead of the former 5.5 per cent.”

According to him, it had become clear to the union 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.

While stressing that as a responsible Trade Union, the TUS had given the government enough time to come to terms with workers demand, he said it appeared that the only language necessary for government to act was a strike action. He  disclosed that initially, it recommended 66.6 per cent across board, so as to maintain existing relativity in emoluments of Public Servants, but the Government Side argued that the Wage Bill would be too high.

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

Explaining further, the union leader said to their surprise, when the Committee reconvened on 27th June, 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.

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“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.

The TUS called on 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 union says the  Trade Union Congress of Nigerian (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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