–      Says, It Amounts To Nothing

The Nigeria Labour Congress NLC has rejected the wage increase of between 26 and 35 percent approved for civil servants across the various consolidated salary structures by the federal government.

Following the announcement made by the Head of Press, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, (NSIWC), Emmanuel Njoku that the increases took effect from May, 1, 2024, the Assistant General Secretary of the NLC, Chris Onyeka, said, the commission does not have the power to fix national minimum wage. Hence the announcement was a waste of time.

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.

What they pretended to have done is a waste of time. It does not amount to anything for us and those in the federal civil service,” Onyeka told one of our correspondents.

He did not make further comments on the matter despite prodding by our reporter. 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 journalists 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 pressmen 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.

Earlier Tuesday, some workers 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.