Organized Labour in Enugu has said that only the personal intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari can stop the planned nationwide strike over consequential adjustments arising from the N30,000 new minimum wage.
The warning came on a day Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, told newsmen in Enugu that the Federal Government has commenced partial implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage to its workers on salary levels one to six.
He also expressed fears about the social unrest that would result, should government fail to address the high rate of unemployment in the country. Secretary to the Trade Union Side, TUS, of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, JNPSNC, Alade Bashir Lawal, in an interview with said organs of various public sector unions were already meeting, with the leaders also reaching out to other sections of the Labour movement and civil society allies for support.
Lawal who is also Secretary-General of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, disclosed that mobilization ahead of the strike has heightened, and that very soon, a nationwide strike will commence. He accused some members of the government side in the JNPSNC of working for some individuals with vested interests and personal gains, and not the government or President Buhari.
Recall that last week, Organized Labour had directed civil servants to prepare for a nationwide strike, saying it had become clear 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.
Lawal said: “Before last meeting, our position was that from levels 7 to 14, it should be 29 per cent and then, from levels 15 to 17, 24 per cent. That was our position. The government delegation’s position before that meeting was 10 per cent for levels 7 to 14, and 5.5 per cent for levels 15 to 17. “Then, we agreed that since the two sides were not shifting grounds, that the government side should go and present the scenario to Mr. President. It was our belief that it was possible that when Mr President sees the difference between the two sides, he will be able to appreciate what Labour was saying. Only Buhari can stop the strike “For us, it is Mr. President that sends you (government negotiating team) on the errand, go back and report to him. When we reconvened, we knew there was a booby trap somewhere. It was obvious that they did not report back to Mr. President. “The next thing was that they started manipulating the minutes to reflect that such decision was not taken.
It was very frightening and annoying. The former head of service was the one that chaired the meeting. “I told her that the government side’s action is very frightening and that some of us are afraid of what will happen because they are just manipulating the system to suit the fancy of some individuals, unknown to the person that sent them. “They just marginally touched what they presented before.
They said from level 7 to 14, instead of 10 per cent, they can make it 11 per cent, and instead of 5.5 per cent for level 15 to 17, they will make it 6.5 per cent. It is like we are pricing crayfish in the market. “It is very unfortunate. We told them that we were going back to report to those that sent us. We have reported and they said we should go on strike. We are mobilizing, we are organising the mobilization and soon, we will do what we know best to achieve result. “For those below level 7, they were not earning up to the new minimum wage. Theirs were not so difficult. From day one, we have adjusted that. We felt that we should complete the whole process before they issue circular. “But the former Head of Service decided on her own to issue a circular for levels 1 to 6. It was a unilateral decision which did not get the blessing of Labour.