By Martin Paul, Abuja
President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Bobboi Kaigama, has expressed worries over increasing rate of inflation and the country’s debt profile.
At the opening of its Triennial National Delegates Conference in Abuja, Kaigama said it was a matter for regret that little efforts was being made to solve the issue.
According to him, with the country’s current debt profile still at N24.3 trillion, efforts must be geared towards ending borrowing, and looking inwards for self-sufficiency.
“Our economy is in dire strait, regrettably, those who should manage it are not showing promising signs on how to fix it.Nigeria’s debt profile is over N24.3 trillion, it was reported recently that government wants to borrow more.
“Borrowing in itself is not a bad thing, the issue is what do you borrow for. Countries borrow for capital projects, and not to pay salaries, if we cannot bequeath wealth to our children, why burden them with debts.’’
Kaigama said with the rate of inflation standing between 11.28 and 11.44 per cent for goods and services, there was an adverse effect on purchasing power for citizens, calling on the CBN and the federal government to ensure smooth running of the economy.
He also decried the secrecy surrounding crude oil refinery in the country, noting that adequate information should be available to Nigerians on both the internally and externally generated earnings.
He said with revenues generated from the Federal Inland Revenue service, NIPOST, NNPC, NIMASA, and those recovered by the EFCC and the ICPC, the country has no business borrowing.
The Vice Chancellor, Nasarawa State University, Prof. Suleiman Mohammed, while commending the TUC and its affiliates at promoting the rights of workers, urged them to continue in unity and solidarity.
Mohammed, who delivered a lecture with the theme, `Labour and Nation Building, The Place of Labour in National Politics’’, said the role of the organised labour cannot be over flogged with an overall goal to unsettle the ruling class.
According to him, the political and elected leaders in all tiers of government have continued to use the instruments of the state to dis-empower workers, calling for more political consciousness to promote their rights.
While commending labour unions for playing monumental role in nation building, the vice chancellor said they must continue to promote industrial justice and fight for the protection of workers’ interest in all tiers of government.
He also called for the involvement of workers in policy formulation and implementation, calling for strengthened collaboration and unity to promote significant roles in checking and influencing government policies and programmes.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Williams Alo, commended the support of the organised labour in improving lives of Nigerian workers, expressing hope that the new leadership of the union would strengthen the already existing partnership.
Alo pledged the commitment of the federal government to continue to be a dependable ally towards improving the welfare of workers and other Nigerians.
President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Dr Ayuba Wabba, stressed the need to address the global imbalance where more people live below poverty line in spite of the growing global wealth, saying it was more worrisome in the country.
Wabba said the role of unity of purpose cannot be overemphasised in trade unionism, saying it was only through this that workers’ demands are met.
SSANU Calls for Immediate Implementation of Over 25% Salary Increment
The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has called for the immediate implementation of 25 and 35 per cent salary increments for workers in tertiary institutions.
Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, National President, SSANU, said this in a communique issued on Monday in Abuja.
The communique was issued at end of the 45th regular National Executive Council meeting (NEC) meeting of the association held in University of Maiduguri, Borno.
He said NEC in session deliberated on issues of national importance as they concern members of the association.
He noted that NEC recalled the renegotiation of salaries for its members with the committee led by the late Prof.Nimi Briggs that was at the final stage.
According to Ibrahim, SSANU had demanded for 700 per cent wage increase but the committee offered a 23.5 per and 35 per cent review for members.
“The recent announcement for approval of an increment of 25 per cent and 35 per cent for tertiary institution workers by the government which was circulated in the social media is not a product of collective bargaining agreement with the university based unions.
“While grudgingly acknowledging this slight increase that is yet to be officially communicated to the union, our universities and inter-university centers.
“SSANU urges both Federal and State Governments to immediately implement the increment and pay the arrears without further delay,” he said.
He added that NEC is also aware that a provisional sum of N100 billion had been budgeted for salary review of workers in tertiary institutions which is yet to be implemented.
The SSANU president also said that NEC expressed worries over withheld four months salary arrears of its members during the last nationwide strike.
He said that NEC described the action of the withheld salaries as insensitive and inconsiderate.
“It was obvious that SSANU complied with all legal provisions including giving adequate notices to the appropriate authorities.
“But were forced to embark on that strike due to government’s failure to honour her path of the agreement.
“SSANU therefore earnestly requests government to pay the withheld salaries without any further delay.
“This is considering the harsh economic realities currently faced by citizens in the country as government is aware, the value for the money has already been eroded by hyperinflation,” he added.
Ibrahim said NEC noted that the issue of Renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/SSANU Agreement was not only long overdue but that the exercise should be concluded.
“NEC in session agreed that now that ministers have been appointed, the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman should hit the ground running as directed by the president.
“This will go a long way in addressing all industrial disharmony between the government and the university based unions,” he said.
He said NEC also demanded that government should immediately reconstitute the renegotiation committee
with experienced university administrators and ensure they complete the assignment within a reasonable time. (NAN)
Labour Unions Suspend Strike for 30 Days
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have agreed to suspend the industrial action planned for Oct. 3, for 30 days.
At the end of a five-hour closed door meeting, the Union leaders said that all the agreements have been given a time line for implementation.
The document was signed by representatives of government and the leaders of the joint union.
The highlights of the agreement are outlined thus:
Arising from the withdrawal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by the Federal Government and the resultant increase in the price of the commodity, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) issued a strike notice which had elapsed and they were poised to embark on a strike billed to commence on Tuesday, the 3rd of October, 2023.
Consequently, a meeting was called by the Federal Government to avert the strike and after much discussion, the following agreements were reached:
1. The Federal Government grants a wage award of N35,000 (thirty-five thousand Naira) only to all Federal Government workers beginning from the month of September pending when a new national minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.
2. A minimum wage committee shall be inaugurated within one month from the date of this agreement.
3. Federal Government suspends collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on Diesel for six months beginning from October, 2023.
4. Federal Government accepts to vote N100 billion for the provision of high capacity CNG buses for mass transit in Nigeria. Provisions are also being made for initial 55,000 CNG conversion kits to kick start an auto gas conversion programme, whilst work is ongoing on state-of-the-art CNG stations nationwide. The rollout aims to commence by November with pilots across 10 campuses nationwide.
5. The Federal Government plans to implement various tax incentive measures for private sector and the general public.
6. On the leadership crises rocking the NURTW and the purported proscription of RTEAN, the Federal Government commits to handling Labour matters in line with relevant ILO Conventions and Nigerian Labour Acts. A resolution of the ongoing impasse is expected by or before October 13.
7. The issue of outstanding Salaries and Wages of Tertiary Education workers in Federal-owned educational institutions is being referred to Ministry of Labour and Employment for further engagement.
8. The Federal Government commits to pay N25,000 per month for three months starting from October, 2023 to 15 million households, including vulnerable pensioners.
9. The Federal Government will increase its initiatives on subsidized distribution of fertilizers to farmers across the country.
10. The Federal Government should urge State Government, through the National Economic Council and Governors Forum, to implement wage award for their workers. Similar consideration should also be given to local government and private sector workers.
11. The Federal Government commits to the provision of funds as announced by the President on the 1st of August broadcast to the Nation for Micro and Small Scale Enterprises. The MSMEs beneficiaries should commit to the principle of decent jobs.
12. A joint visitation will be made to the refineries to ascertain their rehabilitation status.
13. All parties commit to henceforth abide by the dictates of Social dialogue in all our future engagements.
14. The NLC and TUC accept to suspend for 30 days the planned Indefinite Nationwide strike scheduled to begin, Tuesday, the 3rd of October, 2023.
15. This Memorandum shall be filed with the relevant Court of competent jurisdiction within one (1) week as consent judgment by the Federal Government.
NAN reports that the agreement was signed by Minister of Labour and Employment, Minister of Information and National Orientation and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment for the government side.
The president and Secretary General of NLC and TUC signed on behalf of the unions.(NAN)
Strike: FG, Labour Near Agreement, Showdown Unlikely
By Ben Atonko & Johnson Eyiangho, Abuja
The Federal Government and labour unions rose from their meeting on Sunday, with an agreement that all categories of workers should benefit from the provisional wage increment announced by President Bola Tinubu in his Independence Day nationwide broadcast.
The president had announced a wage increment of N25,000 for lower cadre workers in the country.
Later in the day, the President adjusted his stand and approved N35,000 for all workers on the pay role of Government, a statement from the Federal Government said.
“It will be recalled that at the meeting between both parties, the Federal Government pledged its commitment to fast-track the provision of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to ease public transportation difficulties associated with the removal of PMS subsidy.
“The Federal Government also committed to the provision of funds for micro and small-scale enterprises as well as waivers on VAT on diesel for the next 6 months.
“Furthermore, the Federal Government announced that it will commence payment of N75,000 to 15 million households at N25,000 per month, for a three-month period from October-December 2023”, Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris said in the statement.
“Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation.
“For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional twenty-five thousand naira per month,” Tinubu had said.
After a four-hour closed door meeting, Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, said that the president agreed to the new formula after an observation by the labour unions.
He said that other issues were agreed on and would be made available after the unions might have met with their various organs by Monday.
Gbajabiamila said that the government and the unions were all working for the good of the country and its citizens.
‘’We hope labour will convene their meeting tomorrow to present these agreements to their members and we pray that they will call off the strike by Tuesday, for the benefit of the workers and the country.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Joe Ajaero, said that the union had got a “promissory note” from the government to take back to its members, adding that the final decision would be communicated thereafter.
“We have looked at all the promissory notes from the government and how to translate it to reality and make it workable; we are going to take it to our organs and review.
“We are hopeful that our organs will take a look at them and give a fresh mandate on what next to do,’’ he said.
NLC and TUC had declared an indefinite nationwide strike for Tuesday over the fuel subsidy removal palliatives which government had yet to implement.
In response to labour’s demands, the president had, on Sunday, announced a provisional wage increment for workers in the country as well as deployment of compressed natural gas-powered buses to ease cost of transportation.
The president had also said in the nationwide broadcast that his administration was committed to relieving the hardship being faced by Nigerians, adding that various measures had been taken by all tiers of government to mitigate them.
Tinubu said: “There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago.
“I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.
‘’We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilise the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.
“To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas.
“States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices,” he said.
The meeting had in attendance from the government side the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, Minister of Labour and Employment Simon Lalong and Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkiruka Onyejeocha.
Others were Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris as well ministers of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, Finance, Wale Edun and that of Trade, Investment and Industry, Doris Uzoka-Anite.
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