Minimum Wage: Fuel, health, schools, courts, banks, others to be grounded as strike begins today

LAGOS — Fuel distribution, health, bank and other essential services nationwide will be shut from today as organised labour begins an indefinite strike over minimum wage and the recent hike in electricity tariff.

But the Federal Government in a swift reaction yesterday, warned the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, to shelve the proposed indefinite strike, saying it was premature and illegal.

This is even as the Senate president, Godswill Akpabio, speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, George Akume, Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, among others, last night failed in their effort to stop the proposed strike, after a marathon meeting with NLC president, Joe Ajaero, and his TUC counterpart, Festus Osifo.

However, as part of the mobilization for the strike, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has directed the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, ASSBIFI, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, and other senior staff associations to ensure total compliance.

Earlier, Nigeria Labour Congress’ affiliates, including the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees, NUBIFIE, and other critical sector unions had written to their members to ensure total compliance.

Recall that the two labour centres had Friday, announced an indefinite nationwide strike from today over the government’s failure to conclude a new national minimum wage and reverse the recent hike in electricity tariff.
NLC and TUC leaders had on Workers Day’s celebrations, given the Federal Government’s May 31 deadline to conclude the negotiations on a new national minimum wage or risk nationwide industrial unrest.

The tripartite committee on a new national minimum wage set up by the government failed to agree on a new national minimum wage after about four meetings.

Labour leaders had walked out of the meetings thrice after rejecting government and the organised private sector’s, OPS, offers.

The last walkout was Friday, which incidentally was the deadline labour gave the government to conclude a new minimum wage as the old minimum wage of N30,000 signed into law by former President Muhammad Buhari on April 18, 2019, expired on April 18, 2024.

Earlier on Friday, May 31, organised labour negotiators had walkout of the meeting for the third time over refusal by the government to make a new offer beyond N60,000.

It was gathered that the negotiations hit a brick wall when the government and the organized private sector, OPS, remained adamant on the N60,000 offers, they made earlier on Tuesday.

Organised labour’s negotiating team had Tuesday, May 28, for the second time in two weeks, walked out of the committee meeting after the Federal Government increased its offer marginally to N60,000 from the N57,000 it offered on Wednesday, May 22.

The labour negotiating team had on May 15, walked out of the tripartite committee meeting after the government offered N48,000 and the organised private sector, OPS, offered N54,000, against labour’s offer of N615,000.

TUC directives

Ahead of today’s commencement of the strike, TUC directed PENGASSAN, ASSBIFI, ASCSN and other senior staff associations to fully participate in the nationwide strike.

Acting Secretary of TUC, Hassan Anka Secretary- General, said: “We convey compliments from the TUC, particularly the President, Festus Osifo, and write to direct all state councils to commence mobilization for an indefinite strike effective Monday, June 3, 2024. Today’s (Friday May 31) meeting was unfruitful as the government further demonstrated unseriousness towards the demands of Nigerian workers and people.

“The six governors that are members of the tripartite committee were absent, except the ministers of state for labour and employment who acts as a conciliator. Sadly, she had no mandate to make any commitment.

‘’Therefore, you are hereby directed to jointly work together with your sister labour center to carry out this important action.”

In the build-up to the strike, PENGASSAN has informed all its officers across the country, including Lagos, that the strike was compulsory.

A notice by the Public Relations Officer, PRO, Lagos Zone of PENGASSAN, Juliana Adenike, said: “Concerning the planned withdrawal of service from all of our offices on Monday, June 3, 2024, there must be strict compliance. It is your responsibility to ensure no entry and exit in your offices by any of our members.”
According to the notice, all executives at every level of leadership of PENGASSAN “are to wear red or any PENGASSAN attire,” adding.

‘’Mount your entrances and ensure 100 per cent compliance with the above directive. There will be a joint task force TUC/NLC going around to ascertain full compliance. Any company in default will be penalized.

More critical unions to join

Meanwhile, more critical unions affiliated with the NLC have joined the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees, NUBIFIE, among others have pledged total compliance.

Teachers

In a circular to all its officers across the country, Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Secretary General, Dr. Mike Ene, said: “This is to inform all national standing committee members, state chairmen and state secretaries that consequent upon the inability of the federal government to yield to the demand for a living wage by organized labour for Nigerian workers, an indefinite nationwide strike has been jointly declared by the NLC/TUC with effect from the midnight of Sunday, June 2, 2024.

“Given this, you are requested to sensitize and mobilize our members to fully join the strike and ensure that on no condition should any school be allowed to open from Monday, June 3, 2024 till further notice.

“The national leadership will not entertain any excuse for failure from any state, so, strict compliance is required because NUT particularly has a stake in the struggle.

NAPPS opts out, urges dialogue, peaceful resolution

But the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, opted out of the strike and called for dialogue and peaceful resolution of the face-off between organised labour and government.

The body in a statement signed last night by Chief Yomi Otubela, National President, Comrade Augustine Ajibade, National Secretary, and Pastor Gabriel Igbinejesu, National Publicity Secretary, said: “The National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, NAPPS, Nigeria, is aware of the directive regarding the proposed strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, scheduled to commence on June 3, 2024.

“While NAPPS Nigeria identifies with the struggles of the NLC/TUC to improve the living conditions of workers in affiliated organisations, it is important that we prioritize the well-being of our nation and work towards a peaceful resolution that benefits the workers, the economy, and the overall social fabric of Nigeria.

“In light of this, NAPPS Nigeria issues the following directives and information: Advice to embrace constructive dialogue and negotiation, rather than resorting to industrial action. We encourage both the federal government and the Nigeria Labour Congress to further engage in constructive dialogue, negotiation, and mediation to find a mutually acceptable solution. NAPPS is willing to offer its support and expertise in facilitating the negotiation process to ensure a fair and sustainable resolution for all parties involved.

“Non-participation in the strike: Our esteemed members are enjoined not to participate in the indefinite strike by NLC/TUC commencing on Monday, June 3, 2024. A strike would disrupt the education sector, affecting both students and teachers. Continued stability in the education system is crucial for the growth and development of our nation.’’

Medical, health workers

Also, the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, M&HWUN, in a circular, said: “Sequel to the declaration of a nationwide indefinite strike by the organized labour over federal government’s apparent unseriousness and failure to reverse the satanic increment of electricity tariff and conclude negotiation for a living wage for Nigeria workers, I wish to request you to immediately commence intense mobilization of our members’ for a total shut down of all the health facilities in the country, commencing from 00.01 hours, June 3, 2024, in compliance with the directive of the Nigeria Labour Congress.

“Consequently, the state councils’ leadership are equally requested to collaborate with organized labour in their state to ensure water-tight compliance and monitoring of the strike, as any form of sabotage shall not be acceptable.

“Also, pictorials of your level of compliance should be posted on the national secretariat platform for further necessary action please.’’

ASUU’ll participate, CONUA undecided

Similarly, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, said they would participate in the nationwide strike.

However, a rival academic staff union in the university system, the Congress of University Academics, CONUA, has yet to take any position on the matter.

Presidents of the unions, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke of ASUU, and Dr Niyi Sunmonu of CONUA, made their positions known yesterday while speaking with Vanguard.

Osodeke said: “ASUU is an affiliate of NLC, hence ASUU will participate in any action of NLC.”

Sunmonu, on his part stated: “We are following the development and I have called an emergency meeting of the congress for later this evening. There, we will appraise the situation and decide on what to do next. “

Also speaking in a chat, the Chairman of ASUU in the University of Lagos, UNILAG, Prof. Kayode Adebayo, explained that the NLC and the government had till midnight on Sunday to resolve the issue.

“One cannot say the matter is totally closed now. The NLC and the government have up till midnight to negotiate, one cannot say anything positive can come out of such.

‘’If by that time, they agreed, there may be no need for any strike, but if the logjam remains, all affiliates of NLC would join, “he said.

SSANU

On its part, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, in a circular by Kingsley Okayi, Senior Assistant General Secretary, said: “We bring you warm and fraternal greetings from the national secretariat of our great union.

“In line with the letter from the NLC which we are an affiliate, I am directed by the President to request that you comply with the information by directing all SSANU members to liaise with their NLC state chapters to ensure a comprehensive closure of workplace with effect from Monday, June 3, 2024, until further notice.

“You are also to liaise with your national pice president and report the progress of the industrial action to the national secretariat regularly.”

Civil service union

Similarly, the Nigeria Civil Service Union, NCSU, in a notice by its leadership, said: “Fraternal and solidarity greetings from the national leadership of our great union.

“The national leadership is, hereby, directing all state chapters to comply with the directive of organized labour declared nationwide indefinite strike which is scheduled to commence on Monday, June 3, 2024,
“This is in furtherance to the directives of organized labour, comprising both NLC and TUC, due to a deadlock at the meeting of the negotiation committee on the new national minimum wage. Please, adhere to this directive and make the nationwide strike total and successful.”

AUPCTRE

Also, the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE, among others, said: “Your council, committee and organ is hereby directed to mobilize our members to join the nationwide strike that will commence on Monday the 3rd of June, 2024 to press home our demands on the reversal of the hike in Electricity Tariff and the inconclusive National Minimum wage negotiation.”

Judiciary workers

In the same vein, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, in a statement by its Acting General Secretary, Moses Akwashiki, said: “Following a declaration of industrial action by NLC and TUC, beginning from Monday 3rd June 2024 due to the inability of government to conclude the negotiation of the new National Minimum Wage and refusal to reverse the increase in electricity tariff, I am directed to inform you to commence mobilisation ahead of the action.

“The action will start at midnight on Sunday nationwide, so all branches /chapter chairmen and secretaries of JUSUN are expected to ensure strict compliance with this directive

“All vice presidents of our great unions are to monitor their respective zones to ensure compliance with the total shut down of all Courts and Judicial Institutes across Nigeria

“Note that the nationwide action is to ensure governments agree to a new national minimum wage and subsequently pass it into law before the end of May as they were notified, reverse the hike in electricity tariff without consulting the stakeholders as required by the Law to N225/kwh back to N66/kWh and stop the apartheid categorization of Nigerian electricity consumers into Bands.”

Railway workers

Similarly, the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers, NUR, in a circular, by its Secretary General, Igbokwe Francis, said: “As directed by the NLC, we write to inform you of the commencement of a Nationwide strike beginning from 12 midnight, Monday 3rd of June 2024.

“This is sequel to the insensitivity of the Federal Government of Nigeria to agree on a new national minimum wage to be passed into law as directed by the organized Labour before the last day of May 2024 as notified, plus their refusal to reverse electricity to the old tariff of N66/kwh instead of the criminally new N225/kwh inter alia the categorization of Nigerian electricity into bands.

“Consequently, we advise Management to ensure that all critical equipment and properties of the corporation are well protected.”

NUJ

In a circular to its national officers, state chairmen and secretaries, the National Secretary of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Achike Chude, said: “This circular serves to inform all the national officers, zonal vice presidents, and council executives in all the states of our country and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, that in solidarity with the NLC/TUC, following labour’s indefinite strike declaration from midnight of Sunday, June 2, 2024, NUJ is expected to fully participate in the strike.

This action has become inevitable, following the inability of the government to yield to the demand for a living wage for Nigerian workers.

‘’All officers, state, and national, are thus expected to help mobilize and sensitize members and participate where necessary towards the success of this action.”

Meanwhile, organized labour yesterday urged workers nationwide to be wary of the antics of the government and fully participate in the strike because it is about their wellbeing and survival.

One of the labour leaders who spoke on a purported government’s claims that there was a subsisting court order preventing NLC and TUC from embarking on strike, said: “It is an old antic of the federal government. There is no court order anywhere.

‘’What the government is parading or circulating is an injunction got since last year that has lost relevance, even since last year. We can’t be intimidated by those antics. We are talking about statutory minimum wage.

‘’Sometimes, some of these government officers need to think over issues before making the jaundiced views public. It is unfortunate that in Nigeria, once one is appointed to a public office, he or she finds it easy to say what he or she would not have said outside the government.

‘’Well, we are going ahead with the strike until we sign an agreement. The Minimum Wage Act expired on April 18, 2024. We are fighting for a new Act. We are not lawbreakers.’’

Your proposed strike premature, illegal, FG warns NLC, TUC

Reacting to the proposed indefinite strike yesterday, the federal government warned NLC and TUC to shelve their plan to commence the strike billed to start today.

The government in a statement issued by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, described the proposed industrial action as “premature, ineffectual and illegal.”

It stressed that the agitation for the increase of the minimum wage of workers in the country was currently being addressed, insisting that the labour unions failed to fulfil the condition precedents that would enable them to embark on strike.

The AGF in a letter addressed to the two labour unions, noted that the Federal Government and other stakeholders involved in the tripartite committee on determination of a new national minimum wage had not declared an end to the negotiation.

He argued that because the federal and state governments were not the only employers to be bound by a new national minimum wage, it was therefore “vital to balance the interest and capacity of all employers of labour in the country (inclusive of Organized Private Sector) in order to determine a minimum wage for the generality of the working population.”

Besides, the AGF noted that an order of the National Industrial Court, NIC, which barred the two labour unions from embarking on any form of strike was still extant as it had not been set aside.

He, therefore, urged the unions to reconsider their proposed strike and return to the negotiation table.

Suspend nationwide strike, Senate, Reps beg NLC, TUC

Also yesterday, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Sani Musa, APC, Niger East, wrote the President, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Joe Ajaero, and his Trade Union Congress, TUC, counterpart, Festus Osifo, appealing to them to suspend the declared strike.

According to him, suspending the proposed strike will allow room for what he described as continued negotiations as well as demonstrate a collective commitment to the well-being of the Nigerian workforce and the prosperity of the country.

In the letter dated June 2, Senator Musa urged them to explore every possible avenue for dialogue and negotiation to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, adding that the progress of the nation hinged on the ability to work together, especially during critical times.

The letter read: “I write to you in my capacity as chairman of the Senate committee on finance to address the imminent threat and declaration of strike action scheduled to commence on Monday due to the ongoing wages negotiations stalemate.

“First and foremost, I want to express our profound respect and understanding of the critical role that the NLC and TUC play in advocating for the welfare and rights of Nigerian workers.

‘’Your dedication to this cause is truly commendable and pivotal in shaping the progress and prosperity of our nation.

“We are acutely aware of the challenges faced by the workforce, and it is within this context that I appeal to you to consider the broader implications of the planned strike action. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, with his Renewed Hope agenda, is steadfast in his commitment to repositioning the status of the workforce for the better.

‘’His vision is to strengthen, revamp, and revitalise Nigeria’s economy, infrastructure, and development across all sectors.

“The ongoing negotiations are a testament to the government’s willingness to engage in dialogue and find sustainable solutions that will benefit all stakeholders.

‘’We recognise that the process has been arduous and, at times, fraught with frustrations. However, I urge you to consider the potential disruptions and setbacks that a strike could inflict on our collective efforts to move the nation forward.

“In light of this, I humbly appeal to the leadership of the NLC and TUC to suspend the declared strike action. Let us explore every possible avenue for dialogue and negotiation to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. The progress of our nation hinges on our ability to work together, especially during these critical times.

“By postponing the strike, we allow room for continued negotiations, demonstrating our collective commitment to the wellbeing of the Nigerian workforce and the prosperity of our nation.

‘’We remain hopeful that through constructive dialogue, we can address and resolve the issues at hand in a manner that honours the interests of all parties involved.

“Thank you for your understanding, and I am confident that together, we can forge a path that ensures both the welfare of our workers and the advancement of Nigeria.”

Similarly, in a statement signed by Yemi Adaramodu and Akin Rotimi, spokespersons of Senate and House of Representatives, respectively, the National Assembly said the federal government and organised labour had “tenable” positions on the issue of minimum wage.

“Given this, the National Assembly leadership and chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Labour, Employment, and Productivity, respectively, Senator Diket Plang and Adegboyega Adefarati, are looking to engage both parties in constructive dialogue and explore a variety of solutions in addressing the issues at hand.
“The 10th National Assembly is committed to ensuring that the interests of all parties are fairly represented.
“We further urge all stakeholders to remain patient and cooperative as we work diligently to find a mutually acceptable resolution in the best interest of the country.”

However, at press time last night, the Senate president, Godswill Akpabio, and speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, were still locked in a marathon meeting to convince organised labour to suspend the strike.

National Minimum Wage Act 2019 has expired — Falana, SAN

Reacting to the development last night, human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, said: ‘’Pursuant to the National Minimum Wage Act 2019 the the national minimum wage was fixed at N30,000. By virtue of section 3(4) of the Act 2019 the national minimum wage :expires after five years, and it shall be reviewed in line with the provisions of this Act.

“Since the commencement date of the Act was the 18th day of April 2019, the national minimum wage of N30,000 has since expired. Hence, the Minister of State, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, announced during the last May Day rally in Abuja that the new national minimum wage would take effect on May 1, 2024.
‘’Following the removal of fuel subsidy last year, the Federal Government announced an additional N35,000 wage award (wage subsidy) for six months, starting from September 1, 2023.

‘’During the 6 months, the total monthly wage payable to a worker was N65,000. In the same vein, the various state governments awarded various sums as wage subsidies to their workers. Both Lagos State and Edo State Governments have since announced a minimum wage of N70,000.

‘’Curiously, the federal government turned around to offer a minimum wage of N48,000. Hence, the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress have embarked on an indefinite strike due to the failure of the federal government and other employers of employment to pay a realistic new minimum wage to Nigerian workers.
‘’However, it has been reported that the leaders of the National Assembly have intervened in the planned strike. ’The National Assembly should, therefore, pass speedily a new National Minimum Wage Act like the new National Anthem Act that was enacted within 48 hours, last week,’’ he said.

Source: Vanguard

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to top
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
08057107982