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Oyo workers begin 3-days warning strike

Workers in the Oyo State Public Service on Wednesday began a three-day warning strike over unpaid salaries and withdrawal of promotion by the state government.

The state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Waheed Olojede said that the state Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, comprising the NLC and Trade Union Congress, had been negotiating with the state government over the issues for the past three weeks.

He said that one of the issues was `technical’ withdrawal of workers’ promotion earlier approved by the state Gov. Abiola Ajimobi, which the beneficiaries enjoyed for few months.

“The promotion was approved by the governor in February 2018, which implementation commenced in March 2018, and a good number of workers started enjoying it.

To our surprise, by September 2018, the promotion was technically withdrawn by the Oyo State Government, and this led to setting up of a committee to meet the government to explain the reason.

“Other issues are outstanding salaries of workers in local governments and primary schools. They are yet to collect their December 2018 salaries which others have collected.

“In some local governments, workers are owed salaries of three to five months; this is why we said government must do the necessary things to ensure that workers are paid as and when due,’’ Olojede said.

According to him, a meeting between the committee and the government on Tuesday was inconclusive.

“This led to the declaration of the three-day warning strike. We had earlier notified the government of warning strike.’’

The NLC chairman added that there were crisis in  state-owned tertiary institutions.

He said that the institutions were facing one problem or the other and owed salaries and allowances, regretting that the situation had led to industrial unrest in the institutions.

Labour Unions begin minimum wage protest tomorrow

By News desk

Even after the Federal Government intensified negotiation on new minimum wage regime, Nigeria Labour Congress, has insisted that the protest earlier announced will hold as scheduled.

The Union stressed that the protest was not an industrial action but a rally was designed to further inform the governments that they should hasten the process to actualise new minimum wage for workers in the country.

It would be recalled that the umbrella labour union, along with the Trade Union Congress, wants minimum wage jacked from N18,000 to N30,000.

NLC General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, who disclosed the plan to embark on the strike to news men on Monday, stated that the action was not a strike.

He said: “There will be nationwide protest on Tuesday by Nigerian workers to press for a higher minimum wage.

“It has come to our attention that some sections of the news media have largely misrepresented our action plan in reaction to the delay in transmitting the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee on a new national minimum wage to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“It should be recalled that the National Executive Council of the NLC met on December 17 last year and directed that we hold nationwide mobilisation of workers and our allies if, by December 31, 2018, the bill on the national minimum wage has yet to be sent to the National Assembly to be passed as an Act of Parliament.

“We immediately announced then that on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, there will be a nationwide mass mobilisation and protests simultaneously across all states in Nigeria. This does not translate to a strike,” Ozo-Eson added.

Mental Health illness increasing among Lagos civil servants-Lagos HOS

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

After 35 years in Lagos Civil Service, the State Head of Service, HOS, Folasade Adesoye formally bowed out on Thursday, raising alarm over high rate of mental health challenges among the over 100, 000 staffs.

Sharing her 14 months experience in the office, which afforded her opportunity to oversee the service, Adesoye, added that the ongoing civil service reform must include the new challenge because it could affect staff productivity for Lagos development.

Addressing thousands of well wishers that thronged the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium to bid her farewell at her Valedictory and Pull-out ceremony, she stressed that the challenge should be treated as matter of urgency by the government.

“I wish to note the increasing incidence of mental health challenges within the public service and necessity to address the issue as a matter of urgency. I wish encourage a health sector stakeholders’ forum to facilitate a holistic discussion of issues affecting the sector in general with a view to developing a new road map.

“It is also important that the momentum of ongoing reforms of public service processes and procedures be sustained and aggressively cascaded to the Unified Local Government Service in order to maximize its benefits,” she added.

Adesoye also lamented paucity of funds, urging the State Government to ensure adequate funding and effective staffing of the State’s Office of City Resilience considering its critical role in Lagos State’s long term environmental sustainability.

She urged civil servants to brace up for the challenges of the future public service, saying that one did not need a crystal ball to know that in the foreseeable future, the public service would be innovative and technology-driven.

“It would be one in which skills, knowledge, creativity, talent, competence and performance would be the primary determinant of relevance, promotion and advancement.

“Therefore, regardless of institutionalized staff motivation and/or performance reward system, I encourage you to find time to develop yourselves. Seek knowledge relentlessly, pursue education at all cost and be resilient in spirit, be optimistic about the future and invest completely and absolute trust in God,” she counseled.

The HOS also implored civil servants to remain committed to the well tested values, ethos and traditions of honesty, probity, transparency, integrity, hard work and service excellence that had characterized the Lagos State Public Service.

Adesoye charged public servants to be mindful of the responsibility they had, individually and collectively, towards maintaining the leadership position of the public service, urging them to treat one another with respect, love and compassion, while working as a team at all times.

Labour Unions reject Buhari’s plans on minimum wage, issues Dec. 31 deadline

By News desk

The organised labour has given the Federal Government up to Dec. 31 to send the tripartite committee report on N30,000 minimum wage to the National Assembly.

Their threat came barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed that in few weeks, a bill would be sent to National Assembly and inaugurate a technical committee to proffer new source of revenue that would aid the government meet its obligations.

The decision was taken in Lagos on Thursday at a joint meeting of three labour Unions, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC).

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, who address newsmen after the meeting, said that setting up a technical committee could not be a condition for passing the minimum wage report to the National Assembly.

According to him, the organised labour cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if the wage report was not passed for implementation on or before Dec. 31.

“We reject in its entirety the plan to set up another `high powered technical committee’ on the minimum wage. It is diversionary and a delay tactics.

“The national minimum wage committee was both technical and all-encompassing in its compositions and plan to set up a technical committee is alien to the tripartite process.

“It is also alien to the  International Labour Organisations’ conventions on national minimum wage setting mechanism,’’ he said.

The labour leader said that issues on payment of minimum wage was a law that was universal, citing that other African countries like, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa had increased their minimum wage this year.

“If you increase minimum wage, you are increasing the purchasing power of the economy which will help to reduce inflation rather than increase it,’’ Wabba said.

He urged workers to be vigilant and prepare to campaign and vote against candidates and politicians who are not willing to implement the new minimum wage.

President of ULC, Joe Ajaero, who also spoke on the development said that all affiliate members of the organised labour had been put on alert ahead of the Dec. 31 notice, saying, if government fail to submit the report, we commence immediately.

It would be recalled that organised labour had been at loggerhead with the Federal and State governments on the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage.

Obasanjo, Jonathan did less for retirees-Pensioners

By News Desk

After examining pension administration in last 14 years, Retirees under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Pensioners Contributory Pension Scheme Sector (NUPCPS), have accused former Presidents, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan of paying less concentration on pensioners in the country.

NUPCPS described President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as the best in 14 years of the pension scheme in the country.

In a letter signed by the Chairman of the union, Sylva Nwaiwu, the pensioners said they were registering their “unanimous acknowledgment and commendation of the good performance” of the administration.

The union, according to the statement released on Friday, said the consensus was reached during the union’s 3rd Post-inaugural Congress/Interactive Session with the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) held last month in Abuja.

While distancing itself from partisan politicking, NUPCPS said the union was made of “elder statesmen and women who must stand for the truth, no matter whose ox is gored.’’

“We owe no one an apology for expressing the truth we know about the good works of your administration. Your administration inherited huge pension liabilities as a result of the excesses and recklessness of the previous administration which mismanaged pension funds meant for the payment of retirement benefits.

“Nevertheless, your contribution in just a few years in office is one of the best we have seen in the 14 years of the existence of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) in our nation.

“Your insight, determination, political will and commitment as demonstrated in the release of bailout funds to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerian workers/pensioners is unequaled and highly appreciated by the union and other stakeholders,’’ the union said.

In a statement by president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the pensioners particularly lauded the Federal Government’s Contributory Pension Scheme sector as well as the Nigerian pension industry in general.

It also urged the president to “complete the good work you have started” by authorising additional bailout to clear the outstanding backlog from last year.

We will ensure early implementation of new minimum wage-FG

By News Desk

As Labour Unions threaten to reject any plan to prevent non upward review of minimum wage, Federal Government has disclosed that efforts have been intensified to ensure early implementation of the tripartite committee report.

Speaking on behalf of the government, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, stressed that the present administration was committed to the welfare of Nigerian workers.

He said: “The Federal Government is working toward early implementation of new minimum wage which has caused a lot of controversies in recent times.”

The SGF made this known on Thursday in Abuja at the opening of a one-day symposium on the 25th anniversary of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) which has “Overcoming the Challenges of Compensation and Productivity in Nigeria” as its theme.

Mustapha, who was represented by Permanent Secretary, General Services Office, Office of the SGF, Olusegun Adekunle, said: “I wish to point out that the focus of the national minimum income wage is on government employees, this critical sector ought not to be left behind and nobody will be left behind.

“Such employees are also dominantly found in the informal sector and the small scale organisations. However, it is important to know that the revision of the minimum wage should be taken through due process and all key stakeholders carried along,” he added.

Mustapha said that the pay relativity question could not be resolved without the development and implementation of a new job evaluation scheme.

He, therefore, urged the NSIWC to commence the process, adding that government had also observed that productivity needed to take the centre stage in wage determination.

He also urged the commission to leverage on the pilot schemes it was working on in collaboration with the National Productivity Centre to raise a production team in the public service.

The government scribe said that public office holders must bear in mind that remuneration packages for their various offices were appropriately spelt out in the law.

He added that it would be inappropriate for anyone to allow himself to be paid higher than what the law stipulates, noting that “any infraction reported by NSIWC in the course of carrying out its mandate shall be investigated and punished by the anti-graft agencies in future.”

According to him, government is concerned about the spate of strikes in the country as it affects the economy over the last decade,
especially the public sector.

Earlier, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, said: “In our system today, it is the political class that determines the wages of workers, while they the political class determines and collects what it wants, which is higher.

“There must be social justice in wage fixing, therefore, this issue is an issue that I think the wages commission needs to engage our political class and get this information to them.

“We have heard arguments where state governors say workers are a tiny minority; I do not know the tiny minority between the political class and the working class.

“The political class is the tiny minority because they cannot say that our workers, including the police, the armed forces, which without
them they cannot sleep with their eyes closed, are the minority.”

Wabba decried the situation where the nation had more than 25 salary structures for the same system “when what should rather be
operational was the principle of equal pay for equal productivity.

“Our compensation process should be a process that can stimulate productivity because the two work together. If a worker is not paid
and cannot take care of his or her family and pay school fees, can he or she be productive?”

“With better condition of service and compensation, I will be able to think well, work well and therefore the two must work together.”

The President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bala Kaigama, said that the disparity in the salaries and income wages system was
engendered by the NSIWC and was not fair to core civil servants.

He said that it was of great concern to members of the union, adding that there were many salary structures in the public service.

According to him, of all the structures in existence, that which operates in the civil service is the lowest in terms of remuneration,
while other structures are high.

He noted that “it is, therefore, becoming extremely difficult to explain the reasons behind these differences in salary structure, which in most cases short-changed civil servants.

“Recently, the salaries of the police received an upward review and when you look at what is going on at the top echelon, compared to the top echelon in the civil service, the gap is just too wide.

“You may be surprised to know that in some agencies and parastatals of government, junior officers earn as much as N200,000 per month, while officers in the directorate level in core ministries that supervise these parastatals receive less than that.”

He said that the TUC had produced a memorandum on salary review for the core civil service and had submitted same to Federal Government for necessary action.

Kaigama said that the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council was already involved in implementing the submissions of the memorandum, adding that there was need for the NSIWC to also be involved.

The Chairman of NSIWC, Richard Egbule, said that the role of the commission was essential, as it was set up to examine, streamline and recommend salary scales applicable to each post in the public service.

He said that in the 25 years of its existence, the commission had contributed to adjustments on wages, salary allowances and pensions
in the country.

He, however, explained that many of the commission’s functions relating to income policy guidelines could not operate in today’s deregulated economic space.

This, he said, was because though the commission was established based on the recommendations of the Udoji Commission of 1974,
its enabling Act put an end to the Productivity, Prices and Incomes Board (PPIB) Act and transferred its responsibilities to the NSIWC.

“That is why when people talk about the absence of wage policy, they forget that any wage policy that allows non-wage incomes to
rove about without check, can be counter-productive,” he stressed.

FG, ASUU reach agreement on lingering issues

By News desk

In a bid to end the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Federal Government has reached a partial agreement with the striking lecturers.

The minister for Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, made the announcement yesterday after a reconciliation meeting in Abuja aimed at finding ways of resolving the strike which commenced last month.

“We have finished our deliberation for today. I am happy to report that we touched some areas of understanding in implementation from the Memorandum of Action which we agreed to in 2017.

“Some of these areas we have substantial compliance and some other areas have not been fully dealt with.

“Like the issue of shortfall in salaries of some Federal Universities’ workers and lecturers,  ASUU has given a list to the Accountant-General’s Office and we have agreed that by Wednesday that list should be cross-checked by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Auditing.

“So, the Accountant-General’s Office is to get back to us by Wednesday.

“We also have the issue of Earned allowances, revitalisation, these are issues of 2009 agreement and partial implementation and we have agreed on the modus operandi to look into the fund situation, this is due to low revenue on the part of government. ”

He noted that the meeting  identified one area to look for the fund for the revalidation,  that the appropriate government organ would be contacted on the issue.

Ngige said that government was sure to have good information for the striking lecturers.

He said the same situation applied to other allowances, adding: “we have agreed on what we are going to do to make sure that the outstanding amount is handled in a way that all parties will be properly accommodated.

” We also discussed the issue of state universities and agreed also that even if education is on the concurrent list, the universities should be properly funded and staffed so that we do not produce half-baked students from those universities.

“In realisation of this the Ministry of Education will set up a committee, that would engage the Nigeria Governors’  Forum, and the Minister of Education has taken steps in that direction to formalise the interaction.

” The discussions are fruitful and we do hope that in the next adjourned date we would have had the requisite result on the few agreements reached today.”

The minister said he hoped with the agreement reached that the union would call off the  strike in order for students to go back to school and those who had exams could go and take their exams.

He said the next meeting would be at 4p.m. on Dec. 17.

On his part, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, ASUU National President, said they had a useful discussion.

“Our own understanding is that we heard promises made on the part of government, we shall await the report on all the issues, which they have made  promises.

“Only after that, we can get back to our members to take a decision,” he said.

Zamfara workers earns N6,000 monthly-NULGE

Local government workers in Zamfara state are the worst paid in Nigeria as they are still earning N6,000 (less than $20) a month as minimum wage, a far cry from the N18,000 set nationally.

Ibrahim Khaleel, National President Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) made the sensational revelation in Abuja, ahead of the 40th anniversary of the union.

Khaleel said Governor Abdulaziz Yari’s non-compliance with the N18,000 minimum wage, was the real reason he is obstructing the actualisation of the proposed N30,000 minimum wage.

Khaleel, who is also the National Treasurer of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), insisted that the low-earning power of Zamfara residents was responsible for the rising insecurity in the state.

The labour leader noted that as long as the workers were not well paid, there would be no peace in the state.

Khaleel also accused Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state of not fully compliant with the N18,000 wage. He said council workers in the state only get a fraction of the N18,000.

He regretted that the nation’s local government workers were the most vulnerable in the world.

Khaleel also said the local government system in the country was discriminated against.

According to him, the welfare of workers in the system can only be enhanced if the local government areas are allowed to function well.

On local government autonomy, the union leader said only 12 states had taken their stand on the issue, with nine of them supporting autonomy for the local government and three others voting against it

ASUU: Students Call For An End To Strike As 11 Students Die In Auto Accident

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) on Friday expressed sadness over the death of 11 students of University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) in an auto accident on Tuesday.

A total of 11 students of UNIMAID died in the accident on Nov. 20 on their way to Damaturu from Maiduguri following the ASUU strike.

The National Public Relations Officer of NANS, Mr Best Okereafor, gave the condolence in a statement issued in Enugu on Friday.

He stated that “NANS mourns the fallen Nigerian students and in same vain attribute the demise to the ongoing Academic Staff Unions of Universities (ASUU) strike.

“NANS believes that if the strike was not ongoing; the students would have been in school, studying.

“NANS is calling on the Federal Government to save our future and consider the souls of these fallen innocent Nigerian students often told that they are the leaders of tomorrow. Can we lead in grave?

“In as much as we believe in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, NANS is on this sad note, calling on Federal Government to make students happy by meeting the demands of the striking ASUU and Colleges of Education lecturers without further delay.”

According to him, ASUU should not politicise the industrial action but consider the lives of Nigerian students by shifting grounds.

“We appreciate the ASUU agitations as some are students oriented and we are part of the struggle as we are most affected as well.”

Dana Air loses N100m, threatens to downsize

By Business Desk,

Dana Air on Thursday said it had lost over N100 million to the ongoing dispute between aviation unions and Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL).

The airliner said that the dispute had led to the shutting down of the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 where it was operating from.

Dana Air’s Communication Manager, Mr Kingsley Ezenwa, said the airline might also be forced to downsize if the industrial action should continue for too long.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the unions had for the second-day running grounded flight operations and business activities at the terminal over the alleged sacking of 24 employees by BASL for indicating interest to unionise.

The unions are: The National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE).

Ezenwa said: “For now, we have lost over N100 million to the ongoing action.

“Losing such money in an industry where airlines are still grappling with a myriad of challenges is unacceptable and disappointing to say the least.

“We do not know how the situation will be in the coming days and we might have no other option that to downsize if the action stretches for too long,” he said.

Ezenwa also apologised to the airline’s teeming passengers who had missed their flights as a result of the ongoing dispute between the two parties.

He disclosed that the airline had temporarily moved its operations to the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) due to the picketing.

“Our worst fear, however is, if the terminal will be able to process the number of passengers when there is a coincidence in flight schedule with over eight airlines having to operate from the GAT at the moment.

“We appeal to the parties involved to resolve the dispute in consideration of the passengers for whom we are all in the industry to serve.

“Without the passengers, there will not be any airline, regulator or industry and we believe they should not suffer for what they did not contribute to.

“While we respect the rights of both parties to engage each other based on extant laws, we call on all concerned to intervene and save the industry from further crises,” he said in a statement issued in Lagos.

Ezenwa noted that at the moment, MMA2 remained the terminal that was providing  passengers the best in terms of facilitation.

He thanked  Dana Air passengers for their constant support and understanding and assured them of the airline’s commitment to continue to offer the best of services at all times.