Other categories of federal workers, including health workers and lecturers, will soon enjoy a pay rise like their counterparts – core civil servants, who are on Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure (CONPSS).
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said yesterday during the May Day rally in Abuja that funds for the planned increase in wages have been captured in this year’s budget.
Core civil servants are already enjoying 40 per cent peculiar allowances approved for them by Federal Government with effect from January.
President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu promised a better deal for all workers under his administration, pledging that they will enjoy a living wage for a decent life.
Ngige said: “Since the introduction of CONPSS on January 1, 2007, it has not been reviewed by any of the past administrations but for the consequential minimum wage adjustment of 2019 for all wage structures under this government in 2019.
“However, in line with the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerian workers, the Federal Government recently worked out the introduction of a 40 per cent peculiar allowance into the remuneration and emoluments of core federal civil servants and other public servants on the CONPSS to help cushion the effects of inflation and other costs of doing their work as they are not on any special allowances.
“This demonstrates the government’s commitment to improving workers’ welfare and conditions of service even without any industrial action but a fallout of social dialogue.”
Ngige appealed to Labour to ensure industrial peace and harmony remained your watchwords.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) asked for an extension of the retirement age for civil servants from 60 to 65 years and or 40 years of service.
They also urged the Federal Government to expand and strengthen the existing social security framework.
Labour insisted that workers and the masses deserve an equitable share of the nation’s resources.
President Muhammadu Buhari said aside from approving the new minimum wage, his administration took steps to protect workers from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He urged the incoming Tinubu Administration to do better.
President Buhari was represented by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) called on governments to prioritise social justice.
Across the states, outgoing governors highlighted their efforts to improve the lot of workers. Also, their soon-to-be successors pledged better days ahead.
In Abuja, the May Day rally was held at the Eagle Square.
The theme of this year’s International Workers Day is ‘Workers Rights and Socio-Economic Justice’.
Labour lists demands
In a joint address, Presidents of the NLC, Joe Ajaero and TUC, Festus Osifo urged the Federal Government to strengthen the social security net to protect workers.
They noted that if the government was serious about increasing productivity and making progress, it must ensure that the rights and privileges of workers are not only protected but are granted unfettered access to socioeconomic justice.
The labour leaders said: “It is important that we understand that no society can make progress by excluding its major stakeholders – the workers and masses – from having an equitable share of the nation’s resources.
“If we are serious about increasing productivity and making progress as a nation, then, we must seek ways of ensuring that the rights and privileges of workers are not only protected but that they are granted unfettered access to socioeconomic justice.
“To this end, we suggest deliberate actions by the government to expand and strengthen the nation’s existing Social Security framework.
“The Social Investment Programme (SIP) ought to be given legal backing by speeding up the legislative processes towards codifying it in our laws. This will deepen engagement in those areas and provide stronger backing to our quest for socioeconomic justice to all Nigerians.”
Labour also urged the Federal Government to begin the process of ratifying Convention 102 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on social protection.
This, it said, is central to the actualisation of social justice and inclusiveness. It provides appropriate guarantees for workers’ rights to survival during and after work life and also guarantees access to a decent life for many Nigerians.
“It is important that Nigerian leaders understand that without guaranteeing the rights of workers, without allowing workers to win, Nigerians and Nigeria will not win.
“We are Nigerians; when we win, our nation wins and makes sustainable progress. It is the duty of the government to provide the right environment for this to happen.
“Our nation must lead with job-led growth. When jobs grow, income increases and the economy revved higher, but we need to protect those that work in these jobs.
“To protect them, we must ensure that the right legal environment is created and frameworks for compliance with laws are established.”
NLC seeks review of retirement age
NLC called for a review of civil servants’ retirement age to 65.
Ajaero said the extension of years of service should go around, as it had been done in other sectors of the public service.
“Only a few other establishments, including the core civil service, are now left out.
“We are, therefore, demanding that the age of retirement and length of service in the entire public service, including the civil service, be reviewed upward to 65 years of age and 40 years of service,” he said.
Civil servants retire at 60 or after serving for 35 years.
Ajaero said the union had, over the years, demanded salary review but had yet to receive Federal Government’s attention.
President-elect promises living wage
Tinubu assured workers of a better deal under his administration.
He also promised to be a dependable ally of the nation’s workforce.
In a solidarity message he personally signed, he said: “I shall have the honour and privilege to lead from May 29. Workers will have more than a minimum wage. You will have a living wage to have a decent life and provide for your family.
“In me, you will find a dependable ally and co-labourer in the fight for social and economic justice for all Nigerians, including all the working people.
“Your fight will be my fight because I will always fight for you. My plans for better welfare and working conditions are spelt out in my Renewed Hope Agenda for A Better Nigeria. It is a covenant born of conviction and one I am prepared to keep.”
Tinubu stressed that the days ahead will demand better understanding and cooperation from all sides.
“Leadership will require that we take tough and hard decisions so that our people and all Nigerian workers can live more abundantly,” he said.
The President-elect solicited workers’ support, urging them to join hands with his administration in waging a must-win war against poverty, ignorance, disease, disunity, ethnic and religious hate and all negative forces that contend against the stability and prosperity of the country.
Acknowledging the invaluable roles workers have played in nation-building, Tinubu said: “I join the rest of the world and all compatriots to celebrate Nigerian workers on this year’s International Workers’ Day.
“Today is a special day in most parts of the world, a day to salute and honour the working people whose hard work and sweat continue to oil the wheel of human progress and advancement.”
Buhari: we saved small businesses during COVID 19
President Buhari highlighted his administration’s pro-Labour policies, including bailing out small businesses affected by the pandemic.
He said: “Social protection mechanisms both institutionalised and on ad hoc basis were fashioned out, strengthened and implemented at both the national and sub-national levels to cushion the adverse effects of the pandemic, and additionally, bail-out funds were used to aid some small scale businesses to survive.”
He urged the incoming administration to continue to respect workers’ rights, create job opportunities and promote dialogue for consensus building and sound national industrial relations.
He said: “The government affirms the need for the enthronement of decent work which sums up the aspiration that all people have for their working lives; for work that is productive, delivers a fair income with security and social protection, safeguards basic rights, offers equality of opportunity and treatment, prospects for personal development and the chance for recognition and to have your voice heard.
“These elements of decent work concur with our commitment to reduce poverty and forge a path to achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development, and ultimately peace and security in communities.
“Workers’ rights coupled with socio-economic justice make a happy workplace. We, therefore, agree that a fair economic structure targeted at creating opportunities for all to succeed irrespective of sex, race/ethnicity, age, disability, creed, religion, etc. is sine qua non for progress and development.
“I encourage the incoming administration to continue to respect workers’ rights imbued with socio-economic development and driven by the four pillars of the decent work agent to promote jobs and enterprises, guaranteeing rights at work, extending social protection, and promoting social dialogue for consensus building and maintaining a Sound National Industrial Relations System.”
Workers deserve to be happy, says Obi
Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate Peter Obi, who made an appearance at the rally, said the government must build a country where workers are happy, protected and their welfare guaranteed.
He said: “We want a country where workers will stay and they are happy, where their welfare will be protected and they are productive.”
SSANU decries withheld salaries
President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Mohammed Ibrahim, urged the Federal Government to pay four months’ salaries of its members withheld during the last strike.
Ibrahim, who is NLC’s National Internal Auditor, said: “Despite the hostile environment in which we operate, we remain undeterred in our quest to contribute to the building of a great country.
“Our members have continued to report for duty in the most security-challenging parts of Nigeria. It’s a pity that the Federal Government has remained adamant in the payment of withheld four months’ salaries during the nationwide strike in 2022.
“Comrades, you are all aware that SSANU complied with all industrial legal protocols before embarking on strike when the government reneged on its part of the bargain. We have made every effort for the government to see the reason why we should be paid our rightful due all to no avail.
“We are once again calling on the government to urgently pay the withheld salaries without further delay. The insensitivity of the government to the plight of workers is provocative and unbearable.”
He said SSANU would declare a strike if the government fails to implement the 40 per cent pay rise for members.
He also said the Federal Government was yet to pay the N50 billion Earned Allowances promised to the union last year.
ILO: time to proritise social justice
The ILO called on governments to prioritise social justice.
Its Director-General, Mr Gilbert Houngbo, said in a statement: “The promises of renewal made during the pandemic, of ‘building back better’, have so far not been delivered for the great majority of workers worldwide.
“Globally, real wages have fallen, poverty is rising, and inequality seems more entrenched than ever.
“Enterprises have been hard-hit. Many could not cope with the cumulative effects of recent unexpected events. Small and micro-enterprises were particularly affected, and many have ceased operations…
“How do we get there? First and foremost, our policies and actions must be human-centred.”
According to Houngbo, this means focusing on equality, poverty alleviation and core social protection.