By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: The National Human Rights Commission NHRC has asked its staff Union to jettison the proposed industrial action scheduled to commence on Thursday over the non-payment of the new minimum wage and investigation allowances.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq called on the staff to reject the temptation to embark on strike, explaining that the Commission under his watch was making frantic and relentless efforts to persuade the federal government to release funds to pay the minimum wage arrears and investigations allowances.
According to him, the situation in the commission is similar to other sister organisations like the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Public Complaints Commission, the Judiciary and National Assembly which are on the statutory transfer or first line charge in the federal allocation system, adding that only Ministries, Departments and Agencies on the integrated payroll system IPPIS have been paid the new minimum wage and arrears.
He disclosed that his management team took time to explain the various efforts it had made to the Executive Members of the Federal Civil Service Union and the NHRC unit and that industrial harmony rather than a strike is what is needed to further deepen the interface with the government towards securing the release of the necessary funds.
The NHRC Chief Executive Officer recalled Management’s numerous staff welfare programmes and its avowed stance to prioritise the interest and welfare of the staff of the Commission saying that it has been his passion to ensure that members of staff of the Commission enjoy all statutory and consequential benefits like the improved investigations allowances to assuage the numerous hazards that staff of the Commission are confronted with in the course of discharging their duties.
According to the Executive Secretary, the protection and investigation allowances of the Commission had not been reviewed since 10 years but that his team had approached the National Income, Salaries and Wages Commission NISWC which had reviewed this recently and recommended some increase to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) for approval.
He further explained that NHRC staff like other investigation agencies go through a lot of stress and difficulties in carrying out their tasks and this should be appreciated by approving their legitimate investigation allowances as situations abound where staff have had to augment the present paltry allowances paid for investigation with their personal funds to ensure they complete investigation assignments given to them.
Ojukwu, however, expressed surprise that the staff union executives did not reason with the management to shelve the proposed industrial action despite explanations that it has no hands in the delay of the payment of the minimum wage and the investigation allowances considering the fact that other agencies on statutory transfer have not received their own new minimum wage and arrears.