Nigeria: Minimum Wage - Public Service Workers Insist On Strike

(file photo).
17 July 2019

Abuja — The Trade Union side of the Joint National Public Service Negotiation Council (JNPSNC) yesterday directed its members in all public service as well as the 36 states and Abuja to get ready for a total showdown with government should the negotiation on the consequential adjustment of the N30.000 monthly new national minimum wage breaks down.

This is coming as the Senate yesterday appealed to both the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) not to embark on their planned nationwide strike in the interest of Nigeria's educational sector.

The unions after their meeting, also reviewed downward their demands from 66.66 per cent to 30 per cent for officers on grade levels 07-14 and 25 per cent for officers on grade levels 15-17.

On its part, the government side is insisting on 9.5 per cent salary adjustment for officers on grade levels 07-14 and five per cent for those on grade levels 15-17.

The workers expressed concern that rather than presenting the two positions to technical sub-committee as agreed, the government side introduced a strange clause to the discussion.

The workers insisted that the terms of reference of the committee was to work out the consequential adjustment of salaries of public servants based on the subhead provided for salaries in the 2019 budget.

They added that efforts by the trade union side to persuade the government to return to the right track of negotiation and agree on a realistic percentage increase proved abortive.

"Thus, the government side deliberately created a stalemate and thereafter adjoined the meeting of the Technical Committee sine die."

According to a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the workers said the downward review by labour was due to a promise by government to undertake a general salary review in no distant time.

In the communique, which was jointly signed by the acting Chairman and Secretary, Anchaver Simon and Alade Bashir Lawal, the labour said its demand was very much reductive, bearing in mind that the new salary adjustment approved for some agencies of government indicates salary GL 01 step 1 officer will be going home with about N150,000 monthly.

"The Trade Union Side of JNPSNC has now resolved that the federal government should reconvene the meeting of the Technical Committee on Consequential Adjustment immediately so that it can conclude its deliberations and ensure that all public service employees benefit adequately from the N30,000 new monthly National Mihimum Wage signed into law by Mr. President since April, 2019.

"That it has commenced mobilisation and sensitisation of public service employees in the entire 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to prepare them for total trade union actions in the event that negotiation on the consequential adjustment arising from the N30,000 monthly new National Minimum Wage completely breaks down."

In a related development, the Senate yesterday appealed to both the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) not to embark on their planned nationwide strike in the interest of Nigeria's educational sector.

It has, therefore, promised to wade into the grievances of the two unions against their sister union, Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) and the federal government.

The upper legislative chamber took the decision following a point of order raised by Senator Barau Jibrin (Kano North), who drew the attention of his colleagues to the looming strike by the labour unions

The Senate thereafter resolved to engage SSASU and NASU with a view to amicably resolving their differences over alleged neglect and bringing them into clarification of all contending issues related to their counterparts.

In his lead debate, Senator Jibrin said: "it is saddening that the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and Non-academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities have given notice of commencing an industrial action over a number of issues, which if not addressed and resolved, will truncate the smooth running of Nigeria universities in the country."

According to him, the issues raised by the two unions were matters of concern with the relationship of the two unions with ASUU and the alleged refusal by the federal government to heed to their request since 2006.

He, however, observed that the grievances of the two bodies also included the delay in the payment of the gratuity and pension of their members and refusal to attend to other agreements earlier reached with the government.

Jibrin noted that the allegation of the two unions that ASUU was being accorded preferential treatment by the federal government should be looked into, adding that out of the funds released, 80 per cent was earmarked as academic allowances while only 20 per cent is allocated to non-academic staff.

He regretted that rather than accept what they were given by the federal government, SSANU and NASU were making fresh demands of the release of N20billion to non-teaching staff and allowance for 2009 to 2016.

Other senators who contributed to the debate, supported the motion that the Senate and other relevant government agencies should quickly step into the matter and avert the impending strike, warning that any industrial action from these bodies would negatively affect learning and the entire economy.

Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, in his comments, commended Jibrin for bringing up the matter, assuring that the Senate will definitely intervene to stop the strike.

Also yesterday, the Senate kicked against the influx of Quacks in the survey profession and promised to assist in the eliminating fake surveyors in the country.

Senate President, Lawan, who spoke while receiving a delegation of Surveyors Registration Council of Nigeria (SURCON), said the ninth Senate would help ensure the elimination of quacks in the surveying profession.

"We have to regulate the practice of surveying, we must ensure that quacks are thrown out of this profession and tackle the issue of shortage in the numbers of surveyors in Nigeria. The result of this shortage is poor mapping and its attendant consequences of boundary conflicts, insecurity and stunted economic derivation from land.

According to him, the Senate would provide legislative support in repositioning the profession, adding that allowing quacks to dominate the profession could plung communities into crises with one another.

"The Senate will make huge difference in this regard, and we call on you all to be part of this improvement.

"Your request for the amendment of the Surveyor Council of Nigeria Act by provision of its establishment Act, Cap S.18 LFN 2004 (Decree no. 44 of 1989 is a welcome idea. You can submit the Bill for the amendment and I guarantee you, it will receive speedy consideration.

"Review of this Act is very important particularly at this period of our history. The Senate will do all within its powers to make sure professionalism is not compromised here," Lawan stressed.

Earlier in his remarks, the leader of the delegation, Femi Kasim, decried the shortage of surveyors in the country, saying from 1960 to date, Nigeria has only 3999 registered surveyors.

According to him, "ideally every kilometer square of land needs a surveyor, but for Nigeria it is one surveyor for more than every 231 kilometer and one surveyor for every 50,000 Nigerians".

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