Urges Nigerians to appeal to FG to implement the new minimum wage
.PENGASSAN, NUPENG threaten strike over IPPIS
Ukpono Ukpong, Abuja
The Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) has called on Nigerians to appeal to the Federal Government to implement the new minimum wage with adequate consequential adjustments to avoid an impending industrial crisis.
Organised labour under the auspices of the Trade Union Side (TUS) of the council made the call on Tuesday following failure to reach an agreement with the government over the mode of implementation.
Acting Chairman of the TUS, Mr. Anchaver Simon and Secretary, Mr. Alade Lawal, said in a statement that efforts by the unions to persuade government to implement the new minimum wage with appropriate consequential adjustment have proved abortive.
They said that the TUS has given the government enough time to come to terms with workers’ demands, but it appears that the only language necessary for government to act is embarking on strike.
The union officials said labour would give no further notice to the government before public servants at the federal and state levels commence a nationwide general strike over the non-implementation of the new minimum wage and appropriate consequential adjustment.
“It has become imperative to alert the general public that all efforts by the trade unions to persuade the government to implement the new N30, 000 monthly National Minimum Wage signed into Law by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 18, 2019, with appropriate consequential adjustment, have been frustrated by government,” they said.
Labour said that the consequential adjustment committee had on September 3, agreed that the proposal of the TUS be forwarded to the President Buhari to see the patriotic position of labour and approve appropriate consequential adjustments accordingly.
“When the meeting reconvened on September 16, to get a feedback on the expected approval from the President, government officials brought a fresh proposal of 11 per cent pay rise for officers on Grade Levels 07 to 14 instead of the earlier position of 10 per cent and 6.5 per cent for those on grade levels 15 to 17 instead of the former 5.5 per cent.
“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 said.
Meanwhile, the TUS stated that the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and the Nigeria Labour Congress have been briefed on the breakdown of negotiations in respect of consequential adjustment arising from the new N30, 000 monthly National Minimum Wage.
Anchaver said government’s foot dragging is an invitation for industrial action, since workers are already engulfed in fear and agitations whether their accumulated arrears will be paid when talks are finally concluded
Recall that the President Buhari signed into law N30, 000 National Minimum wage in April, 2019, but six months down the line, the implementation of the new wage has been delayed.
The immediate past Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Richard Egbule, had attributed the delay in the implementation of the “consequential adjustment” of the N30, 000 new minimum wage to the unrealistic demands of labour unions.
Egbule explained that the current demand of the labour unions would raise the total wage bill too high and that was why government could not accept their proposed salary adjustments.
In a related development, oil sector workers on Tuesday rejected the move by the Federal Government to incorporate its workers wage into the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (lPPIS).
This is contained in a letter by the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) to the Minister of Labour and Employment.
The letter was jointly signed by Mr. Lumumba Okugbawa, PENGASSAN general secretary and Mr. Olawale Afolabi, NUPENG general secretary respectively, on Tuesday.
It would be recalled that a circular from the office of the accountant general of the federation dated September 7, 2018, directed the enrolment of the oil and gas workers on lPPIS, which the two unions frowned at.
This resulted in series of meetings to proffer ways to address the matter, leading to the setting up of a technical committee by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to assess the unions’ concerns regarding its implementation.
“It is pertinent to state that this committee is yet to meet as we write, unfortunately, we have been inundated again by the threat from the office of the accountant general of the federation, via a circular with reference number OAGF/IPPIS/93/1187, dated August 29, 2019 to stop the salaries of our members, come October 2019.
“We reaffirm that we are not against the government’s policy regarding IPPIS, but we wish to refer to the existence of Government Integrated Financial Management information System (GIFMIS) platform which is run by the Central Bank of Nigeria,” the unions stated in the letter to the Labour minister.
According to the statement, GIFMIS is already serving a similar purpose and the presidential initiative on continuous audit whose responsibility, is to audit the nominal and payroll of agencies as recently emphasised by the Minister of Finance.
It noted that the unions have therefore, directed its members in affected regulatory agencies not to provide any information concerning personnel payment and allowances to the accountant-general’s office for the purpose of lPPIS, until the technical committee meets.
“We are also putting all the implementing agencies of government on notice that if our salaries are stopped without clarification of the issues raised, we will be left with no other option than to withdraw our services without any further notice,” the unions warned.