May Day: FG approves salary increment as labour leaders lament hardship

The Federal Government yesterday approved an increase of between 25% and 35% in salary for civil servants on the remaining six Consolidated Salary Structures.

It also approved pay rise for its pensioners under the Defined Benefits Scheme, DBS.

This came on a day labour leaders said the last year had been tough and agonising for workers and the masses.

The Salary Structure is the Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure (CONPSS), Consolidated Research and Allied Institutions Salary Structure (CONRAISS), Consolidated Police Salary Structure (CONPOSS), Consolidated Para-military Salary Structure (CONPASS), Consolidated Intelligence Community Salary Structure (CONICCS) and Consolidated Armed Forces Salary Structure (CONAFSS).

Recall that those in the tertiary education and health sectors have already received their increases which involved Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS) and Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structure (CONTISS) for Universities.

For Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, it involved the Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Salary Structure (CONPCASS) and Consolidated Tertiary Educational Institutions Salary Structure (CONTEDISS).

The health sector also benefitted through the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and Consolidated Health Sector Salary Structure (CONHESS).

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

The federal government had also approved increases in pension of between 20% and 28% for pensioners on the Defined Benefits Scheme with respect to the above-mentioned six consolidated salary structures with effect from 1st January 2024.

For the pensioners, it was gathered that in line with Section 173 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the government “convey approval for the implementation of new pension rates for pensioners under the Defined Benefits Scheme following the recent increase in the under-listed consolidated salary structures in the Federal Public Service as grade level 01 to 16 , (20 percent), grade level 17 (28 percent), grade level 01 to14 (20 percent), and grade lever 15 (28 percent).

The pay rise also took effect from January 1, 2024.

As workers worldwide celebrate Workers Day today, labour said yesterday that workers and the masses in the country have in the last twelve months, been through tough and agonising experiences as a result of policies of the federal government.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, agreed with the labour leaders, saying Nigerian workers have never had it so bad with government policies skewed against their welfare.

Meanwhile, the federal government has declared today a public holiday to enable workers celebrate it.

FG putting in place measures to mitigate pains of policies – APC
Reacting last night, Deputy National Organizing Secretary of All Progressives Congress, APC, Nze Chidi Duru, said: “The government is aware and encouraged to continue to engage Nigerian workers to ensure that there is proper engagement.

‘’Of course, palliatives are offered that will mitigate the impacts of several measures the government is putting in place which, in the short to medium terms, is admittedly painful, something the our government has always admitted but it is prosperity for Nigeria.

“Just as the president has said, nobody should pity him, because he asked for the job. So, we are all hoping that sooner than later, we will turn the corner.”

However, according to the labour leaders, the government has not given workers any breathing space, even as they lamented that it has been one anti-poor policy after another, to worsen their socio-economic conditions.

They contended that besides the ill-advised petrol price hike and floating of the national currency that had made life excruciating since May 29, 2023, the government had since added an electricity tariff hike to the burden.

President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Joe Ajaero, said Nigerians had been going through a very difficult time, adding that it had not been easy in the last year.

He said: ‘’As we go through this phase of massive suffering in our nation as a result of the ill-advised policies of the federal government in hiking the price of PMS, under the guise of withdrawal of a non-existent subsidy and the devaluation of the naira, our responsibility must be focused on the protection of the welfare of workers and the downtrodden.

“Duty calls and we must respond vibrantly as expected to nudge the government in the right direction and protect our nation from imploding. That is why we must all prepare ourselves for the struggle ahead as we embark on another round of National Minimum Wage negotiation.

‘’It is our responsibility to send the right signal to the government of our continuous readiness not only to stand together but also protect our collective interests.

“We warned them about the consequences of their policies and they insisted that they know better, so we must insist on getting a living wage – A national minimum wage that will not amount to poverty or starvation and reinforce poverty.

‘’We cannot be working but are yet poor. Let us, therefore, gird our loins, though we appeal to the government to realize the importance of taking care of workers who are the original creators of wealth, for without us, no wheel can turn.’’

On his part, the President of the Association Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, Dr Tommy Okon, said: “The last year has been harsh on the workers and it is still harsh on them. You can see the manifestation or resurfacing of fuel queues everywhere in the country.

‘’The government has refused to give us a breathing space. It has been one anti-poor policy after another. We plead with the government to stop choking us and allow us to breathe.”

Similarly, the President of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, ASSBIFI, Olusoji Oluwole, said: “The last 12 months have been challenging to all Nigerians. Workers continue to toil with nothing to show for their labour.

‘’The rising cost of living, due to the devaluation of the naira without the conclusion of negotiations on the minimum wage, has led many to penury and in some cases, death. Despite this, workers have remained strong and united.

“This May Day is a reminder that we hold the key to the progress and prosperity of this nation. No individual or group will be allowed to destroy what our forebears built.

‘’We challenge leaders and employers to deal fairly and ensure appropriate reward and recognition are given to the Nigerian worker. We also salute the few who have recognized and acted proactively to the plight of their workers.”

Also, the President of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees, NUBIFIE, Abakpa Anthony, said: The last year has been a tough one. The effects of socio-economic policies, such s fuel price hikes and floating of the Nigerian currency, brought about unemployment, hunger, suffering, hardship, insecurity and other social consequences.

‘’These have been manifesting the rise in crime rate, reduction in purchasing power and physiological injuries among others. Our government should provide a more enabling environment for businesses to thrive, and guarantee security for their citizens, as well as shelter and food.

‘’Social welfare is fundamental in the life of the citizens. Government should provide financial support and intervention for the poor or less privileged, vulnerable citizens and provide an enabling environment for social progress.’’

In his observation, acting General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Dominic Igwebike, lamented that Nigerian workers, especially those in the power sector, had been facing various economic challenges, manifesting in arbitrary sack, non-negotiation of conditions of service, stagnation of salary, insecurity, and unsafe work environment, among others.

He said: “As we commemorate 2024 May Day with the theme, “PEOPLE FIRST,” Nigerian workers are still suffering from hunger, deprivation, inflation, poverty, political/management impunity, lack of medical facilities, expensive transportation cost, etc.

‘’We call on the labour movement and civil society organisations, CSOs, in Nigeria to fight and actualize this year’s theme by bringing to bear the resurgence of national consciousness to advance the struggle of workers’ emancipation through fair distribution of the nation’s wealth.

“We must mobilize to resist vehemently the daylight robbery of our national assets in the name of privatization and other neo-liberal policies which place profit first, instead of the workers/people. Let us reinvent the union and rekindle the flame and passion for the protection of workers and people’s right. The people must, indeed, be the first consideration.

“It is sad that Nigeria at this level of development, is still battling with power poverty, celebrating less than 4000 megawatts of electricity for a population of over 200 million people, when the global index for power development stands at one million people to one thousand megawatts of electricity.”

In the same vein, the President of the National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products employees, NUCFRLANMPE, Babatunde Olatunji, said: “There is no doubt that the last one year has been tough for Nigerian workers.

‘’Government policies since the last May Day, have compounded the socio-economic situations of the working people across the country.

‘’Industrial Relations space has been undermined by anti-labour challenges, ranging from redundancy, casualisation, outsourcing, contract staffing, hostile employers, non-implementation of Collective Bargaining Agreements, CBA, to opposition to unionism and freedom of association in the workplace. ‘’The removal of fuel subsidy and the floating of the national currency have worsened the situation in our sector.

“As if this was not enough, a recent hike in electricity tariff portends more challenges for us as leaders and members of NUCFRLANMPE and other workers and Nigerians. We plead with the government to give us breathing space.

‘’We are equally not unmindful of increasing insecurity across the country, ranging from kidnapping, banditry, insurgency, ritual killings to other violent crimes. We call on our government to return to duty and do the needful.”

Nigerian workers have never had it so bad – Atiku
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar expressed solidarity with the workers yesterday and said Nigerian workers were paying for the corruption and inefficiency of government.

Atiku in his solidarity message, said: “Despite prolonged pledges and flowery words by the government, the much talked-about prospects of wage increment for the Nigerian worker remains a mirage.

‘’Every dawn unveils renewed hardships and harsh living conditions. After the contraction and contradictions by the government about whether the subsidy regime has gone or it is still being implemented, the country is today facing the angst of frustration by Nigerians who waste precious man-hours in queues at petrol stations across the country.

“The petrol subsidy is purportedly gone, yet its impact lingers, revealing the ineptitude of the current federal government.

“In an unprecedented manner and condescending of both the Nigerian worker and the general public, this current federal government announced a unilateral removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit without consultations with representatives of the Nigerian worker.

“The continued increase in tariffs in different service offerings without addressing the corruption and inefficiencies in the system only amounts to long-suffering Nigerians subsidising the corruption and inefficiencies in the system.

“Since the days of legendary Pa. Michael Imoudu, to later day firebrands, such as Pascal Bafyau and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the Nigerian worker has been at the forefront of the fight against tyranny and bad governance.

“No administration in our history has trampled workers’ rights as this one. Daily, workers face uncertainty over skyrocketing prices of essential goods.

“The Nigerian worker has had it so rough under this current administration and it is unfortunate that while the living conditions of the Nigerian worker remain at miserably low, the Nigerian government continues to regale its international audiences with tales of how the masses are being weaned of their wasteful dependence on government.

“It is thus beginning to appear, that as far as the current federal government is concerned, the management of our country’s micro-economic outlook is an unwieldy laboratory experiment, to which the Nigerian worker is laid prostrate.

“While I cannot but share my sympathy with the Nigerian worker for the way the current government has ridiculed her for far too long, I must equally express my felicitations with the Nigerian worker on this year’s Workers Day.

“I hope that the theme of this year’s Labour Day, ‘Ensuring Safety and Health at Work In a Changing Climate’, will inspire the Nigerian government to put the concerns of the Nigerian worker on the front burner.”

Kalu applauds workers’ commitment to national devt
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatization and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu, commended workers across the country for their contributions to nation-building.

Emphasizing the role of workers in building a robust economy, Kalu urged the government and the organized private sector to prioritize the well-being of Nigerian workers in their agenda.

Kalu, who is a successful businessman, noted that the labour force in Nigeria should be applauded for their perseverance, patriotism, steadfastness and efficiency, adding that workers remained the key asset of any organization.

In a statement in commemoration of the 2024 Labour Day, the former governor said: “ I congratulate Nigerian workers and other stakeholders on the celebration of the 2024 Labour Day.

“It is a period of sober reflection for workers, government and the private sector.

“All parties must build thrust and work collectively to build a prosperous nation.

“I am optimistic that workers across the country in the public and private sectors will live up to expectations in their endeavours.

“Government at all levels, the organized private sector and other employers of labour must continually improve the working conditions of workers.”

Glo lauds Nigerian workers on sacrifices
In its solidarity message yesterday, telecommunications company, Globacom, lauded the irrepressible spirit of Nigerian workers.

‘’The day is celebrated on May 1 every year in recognition of the contributions of workers all over the world. The day is also dedicated to promoting a fairer and more sustainable future by advocating for workers’ rights,’’ Globacom said in a statement.

It noted that Nigerian workers were dedicated, resilient and committed, regardless of the challenges they faced.
Globacom, however, enjoined them to reflect on how their further contributions could build a better and more vibrant society.

Globacom said further: “We salute Nigerian workers on this day and commend them for the hard work, commitment, resourcefulness and industry which are essential for the growth of the economy of any nation.”

According to the company, the story of Nigeria cannot be wholly captured without acknowledging the huge contributions of workers, both in the public and private sectors.

FG declares today public holiday
Meanwhile, the federal government yesterday declared today a public holiday to mark this year’s Workers’ Day.

This declaration was contained in a statement issued in Abuja by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Dr Aishetu Gogo Ndayako, on behalf of the minister, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.

Dr Tunji-Ojo, who made the declaration on behalf of the federal government, reiterated the need for excellence, efficiency and equity in all spheres of labour, re-affirming President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration’s commitment to fostering a culture of innovation, productivity, and inclusivity in the workplace.

He said: “In alignment with this year’s theme, which focuses on ensuring safety and health at work in a changing climate, I wish to state that the Federal Government remains steadfast in its resolve to prioritise the safety and well-being of all citizens.

“Let me reaffirm Mr. President’s commitment to providing a conducive environment for work, where every worker can thrive and contribute meaningfully to national development.”

While acknowledging the contribution of workers, he called for proactive measures to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change through synergy in the implementation of sustainable practices and policies that promote well-being in the workplace and in building a nation guided by the principles of integrity, diligence and compassion.

The minister also urged Nigerians to remain committed to the present administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda as he wished workers a happy celebration.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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