As Minister begs for patience
By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJAâ€”The planned strike action by civil servants in the country over salary relativity was shelved yesterday after a meeting between the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, JPSNC, and the new Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Chukwuemeka Wogu.
Wogu had appealed to the eight unions in the public service to shelve the strike, planned to take off on April 8, at a meeting between the minister and the leadership of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, JPSNC, led by its National Chairman, Comrade Olakunle Olaitan.
Due to what the leadership of the JPSNC, comprising the eight unions in the public service described as the serious concern, humility, understanding and readiness shown on the part of Wogu to address the issue in contention â€“ salary relativity- in the core civil service, they postponed the strike action.
At the end of the meeting with the Federal Governmentâ€™s negotiating team led by the minister, the civil servants resolved to defer the strike action to May 1 if the Federal Government failed to meet their demands by the end of April.
Speaking after the meeting, Comrade Olaitan, revealed that the leadership of the unions had been meeting throughout the day, due to the invitation of the minister, on the line of action to take, depending on the attitude of the government team.
According to him, â€œWe responded to the invitation by the minister to look at the issues we have put on the table, the salary relativity in the core civil service.
â€œAt the end of our discussion, we made it known and clear on our demands. That we are giving the government till the end of April to reopen and conclude negotiation on the issue and weÂ believe that the minister will set the ball rolling and ensure that government fulfil its own parts of the responsibility to the civil service so that we can have a win-win situation.â€
Comrade Olaitan had in his opening brief at the meeting reiterated the demand of the civil servants for justice, saying that the civil servants have been at the receiving end of poor Federal Government salary awards.
Specifically, he pointed out the wide gap and disparity between the salary of Permanent Secretaries in the service and the directors, who were next to them in the civil service cadres, which they say should be bridged.
The disparity, according to him, equally affects all the cadres in the service down the ladder. The unions have been agitating that it was impracticable for a permanent secretary to be paying N1.4 million salary a month, while a director, next to him is receiving N140, 000.
Wogu in his own remark expressed surprise at the slow pace of negotiation on the issue and promised to fast-track the negotiations.