May Day: NLC rejects 35% pay rise approved by FG, insists on living wage

The federal government last night approved a pay rise of between 25 and 35 per cent for civil servants across various consolidated salary structures.

The announcement was made on the eve of May Day, or Labour Day, which is celebrated worldwide to recognise and honour the achievements and contributions of the working class.

The announcement came ahead of the submission of the report of the 37-member tripartite committee on national minimum wage, led by Bukar Goni Aji, a former Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HoCS), which was inaugurated in January this year.

A statement signed by the Head of Press, National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Emmanuel Njoku, said the increases took effect from January 1, 2024.

But the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said the announcement was “a waste of time.”

In an interview with Daily Trust last night, the NLC Assistant General Secretary, Chris Onyeka, said the commission does not have powers to fix national minimum wage.

“What they pretend to have done is a waste of time. It does not amount to anything for us and those in the federal civil service.”

Other senior officials of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) could not be reached up to press time last night.

Njoku’s statement said that the augmentation applies to the six remaining consolidated salary structures, namely the Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure (CONPSS), Consolidated Research and Allied Institutions Salary Structure (CONRAISS), Consolidated Police Salary Structure (CONPOSS), Consolidated Paramilitary Salary Structure (CONPASS), Consolidated Intelligence Community Salary Structure (CONICCS), and Consolidated Armed Forces Salary Structure (CONAFSS).

It added that the federal government had also approved pension increases ranging from 20% to 28% for pensioners enrolled in the Defined Benefits Scheme within the aforementioned consolidated salary structures, with the same effective date.

Before the latest development, salary increases were implemented for tertiary education and health, among them the Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS), Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structure (CONTISS), Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Salary Structure (CONPCASS), Consolidated Tertiary Educational Institutions Salary Structure (CONTEDISS), Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), and Consolidated Health Sector Salary Structure (CONHESS).

When contacted to shed more light on the statement he issued hours to the May Day, Njoku told Daily Trust that there was no wrong time for workers to benefit from government policies.

He also confirmed that the government would pay the arrears of the backlogs from January.

Njoku added that the increment was different from the multi-stakeholders committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume.

However, some senior government functionaries and security officials, who spoke in confidence, told Daily Trust that the announcement by NSIWC was to avert an impending embarrassment.

One of them said that the government was aware of alleged plans by the organised labour to use today’s event to call out political leaders.

One of the sources said that government officials and security agencies could not locate union leaders for dialogue to prevent likely violent protests, as they were either in hiding or deliberately avoided contacts yesterday.

Another source said that a meeting of the organised labour with SGF Akume and leadership of security agencies ended on Friday without a tangible outcome.

Workers want living wage

Earlier Tuesday, some workers who spoke to our correspondents in some states, called on the Bola Tinubu-led federal government to approve a living wage that will make life better for workers.

The workers, who said this is necessary considering the rising cost of living in the country, added that it is now about living wage and not minimum wage.

They said it has been a tumultuous journey for them in Nigeria, considering the rising cost of living after the removal of fuel subsidy among other measures.

Many civil servants said their take home pay is not in tune with the reality because they struggle to survive and rarely meet up with the demands of their families.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2019 assented to the N30, 000 minimum wage bill, which ushered in a new pay structure for workers. While the policy is being implemented at the national level, many states are yet to key into the policy.

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