Says govt negotiating team working for vested interest
By Victor Young
Organised Labour has said only the personal intervention by President Muhammadu Buhari can stop the planned nationwide strike over consequential adjustment arising from the N30,000 new minimum wage.
Speaking to Vanguard, Secretary to the Trade Union Side, TUS, of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council, JNPSNC, Alade Bashir Lawal, said organs of various public sector unions were already meeting and leaders were also reaching out to other section of Labour movement and civil society allies for support.
Lawal, who is also the Secretary-General of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, informed that mobilisation ahead of the strike had heightened and very soon the nationwide would commence.
He accused some members of the government side in the JNPSNC of working for some individuals with vested interest and personal gains, and not the government or President Buhari.
Recall that last week, Organised Labour had directed civil servants to prepare for a nationwide strike that “It has become clear that the Government Side is not serious about paying millions of workers a new national Minimum Wage and adequate consequential adjustment but prefer taking the Trade Unions for a ride. As a responsible Trade Union, the TUS has given the Government enough time to come to term with workers demand but it appears that the only language necessary for Government to act is a strike.”
According to Lawal, “Before the last meeting, our position was that from levels 7to 14 it should be 29 per cent and then, from levels 15 to 17, 24 Percent. That was our position. The government delegation position before that meeting was 10 per cent, for levels 7 to 14, and 5.5 per cent for levels 15 to 17.
“Then, we agreed that since the two sides were not shifting grounds that the government side should go and present the scenario to Mr President. It was our belief that it was possible when Mr President saw the difference between the two sides, he would able to appreciate what Labour was saying. For us, it is Mr President that sends you (government negotiating team) on the errand, go back and report to him.
“When we reconvened, we knew there was a booby trap somewhere. It was obvious that they did not report back to President Buhari. The next thing was that they started manipulating the minute to reflect that such a decision was not taken. It was very frightening and annoying. The former Head of Service was the one that chairman the meeting. I told her that the government side action is very frightening and that some of us are afraid of what will happen because they are just manipulating the system to suit the fancy of some individuals unknown to the person that sent them.
“They just marginally touched what they presented before. They said from level 7 to 14, instead of 10 per cent, they can make 11 per cent, and instead of 5.5 per cent for level 15 to 17, they will make it 6.5 per cent. It is like we are pricing crawfish in the market. It is very, very unfortunate. We told them that we were going back to report to those that sent us. We have reported and they said we should go on strike. We are mobilising, we are organising the mobilisation and very, very soon, we will do what we know best to achieve a result.
“For those below level 7, they were not earning up to the new minimum wage. Theirs were not so difficult. From day one, we have adjusted that. We felt that we should complete the whole process before they issue circular. But the former Head of Service decided on her to issue circular for levels 1 to 6. It was a unilateral decision which did not get the blessing of Labour.
“We told her that she was destroying the civil service and this was not what she met and that history would be told of the misdemeanour some of you have done to the civil service. At the stage we are only the personal intervention of President Buhari can stop the planned strike.”