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Nigerian Labour Unions Plans Nationwide Strike Over Minimum Wage Delay

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Labour unions in the public service on Monday, July 1, 2019, said they had started mobilising workers against the delay by the Federal Government to implement the new minimum wage signed into law on April 18, 2019.

The unions, under the aegis of the Trade Union Side, TUS, of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, JNPSNC, said in Lagos after its meeting that they would commence mobilisation of workers for a showdown to press home their demand for the implementation of the new minimum wage.

A letter signed by Mr Anchaver Simon, Chairman, and Mr Alade Lawal, Secretary accused the Federal Government of working to derail negotiation that would result in a consequential adjustment of salaries in the public service.

The TUS had earlier warned that the eight unions in the public services of the federal and 36 state governments might embark on strike if by June 28, 2019, the government failed to make any headway with the negotiation to pay the minimum wage.

According to the TUS, since the committee set up early in June by the government to work out the consequential adjustment of the wage started meeting, “the government has been coming up with strange proposals with the intent to scuttle the implementation of the N30,000 new wage.

”All was going on well until the government side came up later with their usual magic aimed at scuttling the whole exercise,” the letter said.

It said that the TUS had initially proposed that since the minimum wage was increased by 66.66 percent (from N18,000 to N30,000), salaries for officers on grade levels 01 to 17 should be adjusted accordingly to maintain the relativity that existed in the salary structure in the public service.

“But when the government side argued that such increase across board would raise the total wage bill too high, the TUS reviewed its demand downward and eventually settled for 30 percent for officers on grade levels 07-14 and 25 percent for those on grade levels 15-17.

”The government side, on its part, insisted on 9.5 percent salary raise for employees on grade levels 07 to 14 and five percent for those on grade levels 15 to 17,” the unions said in the letter.

The letter said that the two sides later agreed to capture the two positions in the technical committee’s report which would be presented for discussion at the plenary.

The TUS said in the letter that it came as a shock at the last meeting of the technical committee when the government side began to hold on to a non-existent position that the technical committee’s term of reference was to base its assignment in respect of salary adjustment on what was provided for in the 2019 budget.

”This is very incorrect and unfortunate.

“It is regrettable that the implication of government’s position is that the technical committee cannot go beyond what the government is pushing for which is 9.5 percent salary increase for officers on GL 07-14 and five percent for those on GL 15-17,” it said.

The letter said that the implication of this was that government had a pre-determined position and only called labour in to rubberstamp its hidden agenda.

It said the turn of event showed that ”some fifth columnists want to push President Muhammadu Buhari to enter into a collision course with Nigerian workers in the public service”.

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