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Sacking workers would trigger industrial unrest, TUC warns

 Tiers of government have been warned to desist from embracing plans to downsize the workforce as it would force organisedlabour to embark on prolonged protests and industrial actions.

Trade Union Congress (TUC) gave the warning and vowed to fight any arm of government that would use Nigerian workers as scapegoats for whatever reasons.

The warning TUC said, follows the numerous ludicrous excuses coming from virtually all segments of the three tiers of government over the demand by organisedlabour for upward review of N18, 000 national minimum wage to N56,000.

In a statement signed by the President, Comrade BobboiBalaKaigama and Acting Secretary General, Comrade (Barr) SimesoAmachree, the union decried the move whereby some private individuals are seeking to justify the failure of some state governments to pay the wage bill of workers and execute certain needful projects.

Worried that the likes of the Minister of Finance, KemiAdeosun, could join such anti-labour call, barely four days after the former Special Assistant to former President, DrGoodluckEbele Jonathan, DrDoyinOkupe, asked governors to downsize because government is spending so much on salaries, TUC noted that the minister’s position is that the N165 billion monthly salaries to federal civil servants was over-bloated and could no longer be sustained by government.

“We recall that it was widely reported that the immediate past administration discovered hundreds of thousands of ghost workers within the civil service. The present administration has also told us that they have discovered some and adopted series of measures to curb such cases. We are upset that the available information technology platforms and the Biometrics Verification Number (BVN) recently introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would have helped to iron out these things.

“We thank the minister for faulting the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) introduced by the last administration. She said the system was sabotaged by elements benefitting from salary fraud. We also welcome her claim that she has “created a unit assigned with the sole responsibility of checking the salaries and catching those behind the over-bloated salary.” Our question now is, “Is the new unit a set of new employees or were they drawn from the same system?” Are we faced with a situation where a witch cried yesterday and a child died today? If so, do we need any soothsayer to inform us that it was the witch that killed the child? For us there is no difference between the unit set up by the minister and the “elements” she alleged to be benefitting from the salary fraud.”

Expressing its concern that the governments that ought to seek out ways on how cost of governance should be pruned is only working out ways to use workers as scapegoats, saying, “We might not know the exact amount the country gets from the sale of crude and the internally generated revenue, but we know it is in trillions of naira. We wish to reiterate that the cost of running government in the country is too expensive. It is mindboggling that a senator who barely initiates a bill throughout a-4-year tenure earns more than the United State President in a country that is yet to find its feet. It beats our imagination how a government contemplates and suggests sacking a worker that earns N18, 000 national minimum wage while leaving politicians whose salaries and allowances are in millions. This does not make economic sense.”

“The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria will fight to finish any attempt to sack Nigerians for errors that are not theirs. It is peak of injustice to sack a worker who earns a stipend just to be able to sustain payment of millions of naira to politicians. We cannot be made to bear the brunt of what we do not know about just to massage the ego and pockets of a privileged few. Nobody or group should prompt a disruption of the prevailing peaceful industrial atmosphere in the country,” the union stressed.

 

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