THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday has once reiterate position on the planned industrial action. Four-days ultimatum has been given to the Federal Government to accept its demand for the consequential adjustment of salaries, based on the new minimum wage, or risk a nation-wide strike.
The ultimatum ends Wednesday, the umbrella union said in a letter to the Federal Government by its General-Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, urging the state councils to prepare for dispute.
But, to douse the brewing tension and avert the strike, Labour and Employment Minister Senator Chris Ngige has called for a meeting between NLC and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) tomorrow.
The minister said: “NLC and TUC leadership know the rule and what the ILO statutes say on such situation. So, we will continue our effort on Tuesday.”
Also, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, appealed to workers to shelve the proposed strike.
Warning that the strike may amount to an exercise in futility, he cautioned workers against uncritically confusing minimum wage increment with general wage review.
Fayemi, who shed light on the scope of the new minimum wage, urged workers to take into consideration the country’s economic situation before embarking on industrial action.
he NLC letter to the state chapters reads: “You will recall that a joint communiqué was issued by the leadership of the NLC, Trade Union Congress and the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council stating that after two weeks from the date of the said communiqué, industrial harmony could not be guaranteed in the country, should an agreement not be reached with the Federal Government on the consequential adjustment of salaries as a result of the new minimum wage of N30, 000.
“You are hereby directed to coordinate preparations with TUC and JPSNC in your state for necessary industrial action should the time expire without an agreement as contained in the communiqué.”
Organized labour also faulted comments by Ngige that they misinterpreted minimum wage to mean general salary review.
The Secretary-General of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Alade Lawal, described the minister’s comment as a political gimmick meant to distract the union ahead of the expiration of the ultimatum.
Ngige had told members of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) last Thursday that the Federal Government had not commenced total implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage because organized labour mistakenly perceived consequential adjustment in salary as total salary review.
The ASCSN secretary-general said labour understood its demands from the Federal Government for workers.
Lawal said the NLC had earlier written to the government for general salary review for workers.
He said: “From the memo on general salary review, which we had earlier submitted, we were asking for N777, 000 for Grade level 17 step one and for Grade level one step one we are asking for seventy something thousand.
“If we are asking for that and we are negotiating for 29 percent and 24 per cent, is that the same thing? So, it shows you that we understand what we are saying.”
Lawal said that the minister’s claim that government’s personnel budget had risen astronomically to N3.08 trillion from N1. 88 trillion between 2016-2020 was not true.
Lawal added: “What he (Ngige) said is not correct. We understand what we are saying and we have told him that. These are distracting strategies. We have passed that stage. Our eyes are on the ball.