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Court orders First Bank to pay 2015 retirees’ entitlement

By News desk

The National Industrial Court, Abuja, has ordered First Bank of Nigeria Plc to pay its 2015 retirees their entitlements.

Justice Sanusi Kado, delivering  judgment on behalf  of  Justices Benedict Kanyip and Rakiya Haastrup.

Justice Kado in the judgment declared that the dispute between the parties was a Trade Dispute and the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP), had the jurisdiction to have listened to the matter.

The judge further declared that the respondents had authorization to sue in representative capacity.

He also affirmed the IAP’s award of 100 per cent payment of entitlement, he however limited it to only four of the retirees who were able to prove their unpaid entitlements.

The judge further affirmed the payment of 30 per cent annual basic salary as repatriation allowance as granted by IAP.

In addition, the respondents were granted payment of three months salary in lieu of notice.

The court also affirmed the decision of the IAP for relief of waiver of up-front payment to the retirees.

However, the court has set aside the award of payment of deferred pension scheme, gratuity and payment of performance and profit for 2014 financial year as earlier granted by IAP.

The judges in their judgment also set aside the payment of 21 per cent interest rate of the entitlements from March, 2015 till date and N5 billion request as damages was also denied.

First Bank Plc, the appellant had approached the court to seek redress when IAP on March 18,2018 entered an award in favour of the retirees (respondents).

Obi Chukwuma, the respondents’ counsel averred that the bank in Feb.2015 called for voluntary retirement with incentive to interested staff.

Chukwuma further submitted that the appellant then turned around and refused the respondents their incentive retirement entitlements as earlier promised after they retired.

The appellant counsel, Godswill Nwani, in his argument said the IAP lacked jurisdiction to entertain dispute between the bank and the retirees.

Nwani also said the commencement of the action by the respondents in a representative capacity at the IAP made the action incompetent.

Joined as a co- respondent in the suit was the Association of Senior Staff of Bank, Insurance and Financial Institutions.

I will pay above 30,000 minimum wage if elected-Sanwo-Olu

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

Ahead of the gubernatorial election in Lagos, All Progressives Congress, APC candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has assured the workers that if elected, his administration will pay above the 30,000 minimum wage benchmark and policies to improve their welfare would be introduced.

Sanwo-Olu added that the benefits that existed before but were denied during the present administration would be reinstated by his administration when elected on 9th of March, 2019.

The APC governorship candidate gave the assurance on Thursday while addressing civil servants with his deputy, Dr, Obafemi Hamzat, a meeting which was expected to be conveyed by the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, but was absent, in Ikeja.

He noted that his administration would consider the civil servants welfare because they will drive his vision for the state which is targeted at building an enviable smart city.

While assuring the civil servants that his administration would operate an all inclusive government, he stated that workers would be engaged, trained and motivated to work effectively for Lagos development.

“As part of the motivation, we will take the minimum wage above the level presented at the National Assembly. And the payment will not exceed the 23rd of every month. This is part of the welfare package we have for civil servants in Lagos.

“We will also ensure a car package for senior staffs that have attained directors’ status in the public service. We cannot allow workers that are required to stay back and work to start looking for bus to convey them home at night.

“On the staff bus, I discovered that civil servants now pay to repair the vehicle. When elected, our administration will replace the rickety vehicles for the staff. All these, we believe would motivate the staff to deliver in every task they have been mandated to do,” he added.

While responding to complaint from workers, Sanwo-Olu assured that his administration, if elected, would restore local and international training benefit to the State public service.

He added: “We cannot give you tool alone without training because they accompany each other. It is when we have done that the government can have an effective public service that drives the policies.

“This we believe will make the workers have the required skill to perform the task of taking Lagos to greater height. And it will be considered an important issue by our administration.”

Sanwo-Olu disclosed that his administration, when elected, would establish a platform for retired civil servants to act as volunteer workers, saying, we always have some civil servants that are still active but due to the public service barrier on age, they leave service.

“Some of these retired workers have acquired skills over the years. The retirement has barred them from further rendering their service to the state but they are active. So, we cannot allow them take that skill away. This is why we have concluded that when we are elected, such plan would be implemented in the state.”

Aside the welfare for workers, the APC candidate disclosed that his government would complete all existing projects especially the Lagos-Badagry Expressway which serve as a major entry route for foreigners from Western African countries visiting the country.

N27,000 Minimum Wage bill passes Second Reading at Senate

By News desk

Barely 24 hours after receiving National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill, the Senate on Thursday deliberated on the N27, 000 wage and passed through the crucial second reading.

The lawmakers passed the bill during plenary after the suspension of the Senate rules, to accommodate it after Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan, moved for expeditious passage of the bill because of its importance.

During the debate, the lawmakers supported the bill and were confident that it would improve the standard of living for workers in the country.

They called on the state governments to look inwards on how to actualise the new minimum wage by cutting frivolous expenses and improving revenue generation.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, presided over the plenary, disclosing that contrary to reports, the minimum wage proposal sent to the National Assembly was N27,000 for both Federal and state workers.

Ekweremadu, however, faulted the part of the proposal which exempted organisations which employ less than 25 people from paying the new minimum wage.

He decried that the exemption would exclude many low-income earners who work in small organisations from benefitting from the new minimum wage.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has also commenced deliberation on the bill sent to the lawmakers by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the letter read to the lawmakers, the President proposed a minimum wage of N27,000 for workers.

Earlier, the senate agreed to Lawan’s request and the minimum wage bill was debated in the chamber.

Presidency transmits Minimum Wage bill to NASS

By News desk

Barely 24 hours after National Council of State approved the new minimum wage, the presidency has disclosed that the bill to ensure ratification has been transmitted to the National Assembly.

It would be recalled that the National Council of State approved the sum of N27,000, which the Federal Government, however, said it would increase to N30,000 for its workers.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, confirmed this to Channel Television on Wednesday, saying that the bill was transmitted to the parliament earlier in the day.

The President’s aide, however, did not give details of the content of the bill.

National Council Of State approves N27,000 minimum wage

By News desk

The National Council of State has approved N27, 000 as the minimum wage for the country, a fee which was N3,000 less than the proposed fee by labour unions.

Following the Council’s approval, a minimum wage bill was expected to be sent to the National Assembly on Wednesday.

According to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, the Federal Government is topping the approved amount by N3,000 to 30,000 for its workers.

He said the states are at liberty to augment the new agreement as they see fit.

Although there are exemptions, private and public organisations employing less than 25 workers are bounded by the N18,000 minimum wage.

The Council, however, set N27,000 as the new benchmark that any lowest paid worker (that is Grade Level 1 Step 1) would get.

The amount approved by the Council of State is N3,000 short of the N30,000 that the Tripartite Committee on Review of National Minimum Wage recommended.

The committee, chaired by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Ama Pepple, had submitted the report, which contained the recommended figure, to President Muhammadu Buhari on November 6, 2018, after many months of deliberations.

Prior to the committee’s recommendation, in October, state governors had offered to pay N22,500 as minimum wage.

Nine days after the committee recommended N30,000, on November 15, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum insisted that the states cannot pay the amount, leading to criticism by organised Labour which insisted on N30,000.

On January 8, 2019, the Nigeria Labour Congress held a nationwide protest over what it said was the delay by the Federal Government to transmit a new minimum wage bill to the National Assembly.

Buhari presided over the Council of State’s meeting which had in attendance Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, as well as former Presidents, Heads of State, and former Chief Justices of Nigeria.

They include Ernest Shonekan, Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar, and Goodluck Jonathan, while Yakubu Gowon was absent.

Others present are Senate President Bukola Saraki, governors of Zamfara, Kebbi, Plateau, Lagos, Borno, and Ebonyi, as well as members of the President’s cabinet.

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.