April 9, 2010

Civil servants defer planned strike

By Victor Ahiuma-Young

ABUJA— CIVIL servants in the country, yesterday, shelved their planned strike over salary review after a meeting with the new Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu.

After a meeting between the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, JPSC, and the minister, leaders of the public sector workers, however, vowed to begin a nation wide industrial action from May 1, 2010, should government fail to address their demand.

The workers, under the umbrella of the civil service unions had planned to commence the action following dispute over wage disparities in the service.

At the centre of their agitation is the perceived wide difference between the salaries of permanent secretaries and directors in the service.

Leaders of the workers who met with the new minister and the Federal Government negotiating team at the federal secretariat in Abuja resolved to defer the strike action to May 1 if the Federal Government did not meet their demands.

President of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCS, Comrade Adekunle Olaitan who led the negotiating council, said in his opening speech at the meeting that  civil servants were demanding for justice, stressing that “the core civil servants have been at the receiving end of poor Federal Government salary awards.”

In his remarks, the new Minister expressed surprise at the slow pace of negotiations on the issue and promised to fast-track the negotiations.

He regretted that the workers’ demand had been trapped by intervening situations arising from the dissolution of the federal executive council and the absence of a minister.

The workers while reiterating their demand, however, expressed satisfaction at the disposition of the Minister to the issue.

Comrade Olaitan who briefed newsmen at the end of the negotiations, yesterday evening, said the workers would defer the planned strike to May 1 and were giving the Federal Government until the end of the month to conclude the negotiations.