There is no going back on the strike planned to hold any time after the Wednesday, October 16, deadline issued to the Federal Government to finalise discussion on the full implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, the organized labour has said. It therefore called on workers and other Nigerians to prepare themselves ahead of the strike which it said would be total.
The caution is coming on the heels of today’s meeting scheduled by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, with the leadership of the labour movement.
At the last meeting with labour, the minister had fixed Tuesday for the resumption of the negotiation, which was allegedly frustrated by the government.
Labour has, however, said any meeting called by the minister outside the negotiation committee would be treated as informal, and no decision could be taken from such meeting.
Meanwhile, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday placed members on standby for the planned strike, directing state councils to prepare for strike on October 16, if negotiations with government tomorrow breaks down again.
In a circular to state councils, signed by its general secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC said this was a notice in case the proposed negotiations of October15 with the Federal Government broke down.
“You will recall that a joint communiqué was issued by the NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Committee (JNPSNC) stating that, 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 national minimum wage of N30,000.
“You are hereby directed to coordinate preparations with TUC and JNPSNC in your states for necessary industrial action, should the time expire without an agreement, as contained in the circular.’’
Organised labour had demanded 29 per cent salary increase for officers on salary level 07 to 14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers on salary grade level 15 to 17.
The Federal Government had, however, presented a proposal of 11 per cent salary increase for officers on grade level 07 to14 and 6.5 per cent adjustment for workers of grade level 15 to 17.
Implementation of the new wage has remained a problem, arising from the issue of relativity and adjustments.
On May 14, the Federal Government inaugurated the relativity and consequential adjustment committee, which in turn set up a technical sub-committee to work out a template for the adjustment of salaries of public service employees.
However, government and labour have failed to reach an agreement over relativity and consequential adjustments for the implementation of the new minimum wage more than six months after it was signed into law.
A member of the negotiation committee who attended last week’s meeting with the minister, told Daily Sun that government was ready to add to the percentage it was presently offering, perhaps 5 per cent, at Tuesday’s committee meeting.
He also noted that the minister had pleaded with organised labour to accept whatever government was offering and not go ahead with the proposed strike.
Meanwhile, the secretary of the Joint Public Negotiation Council, who is also the secretary general of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Alade Bashir Lawal, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun yesterday, said the mobilisation of workers for the strike was in top gear.
He said labour would advise Nigerians to get ready for the strike by stocking their homes with food ahead of the planned day.
He recalled that he was in Abuja last week to mobilise all the union members in the civil service and other agencies: “We are not letting down our guard, yes, we will attend the meeting with the minister tomorrow. But all what the minister is doing is serving as a conciliator between labour and government. For example, he held a separate meeting with labour and representatives of government.”
Lawal said labour would listen to the minister and report to the leadership of the labour centres for further directives.
“Whatever figure the government may be coming with, we are not going to finalise anything with the minister but get back to our leadership for further consultation. We know all what the minister is doing is ensure that the strike does not hold, but that can only be if what they are offering is what our members will accept”, he said.
The secretary maintained that the meeting labour considered very important would be the Tuesday’s committee’s meeting which would determine if the strike would go on, adding that the leadership would not give any further notice should the strike have to go as scheduled.
He listed members of the Committee to include, Minister of Finance, Minister of Justice, Minister of Education, Director from Ministry of Budget and National Planning, while Head of Service is the chairman.
The ASCSN scribe added that the strike would cut across both the public and private sector of the economy.