The federal government has allayed fears of health workers, lecturers and other federal workers following a 40 per cent pay rise for core civil servants in the country.
The Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige said pay rise for doctors, health workers, lecturers and others who are not on the Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure (CONPSS), have been captured in the 2023 budget.
Ngige spoke during this year’s International Workers Day in Abuja with the theme: ‘Workers Rights and Socio-Economic Justice,’ reports The Nation.
The implementation of a 40 per cent pay rise for civil servants on CONPSS and payment of a “peculiar allowance” to cushion the effect of inflation on civil servants have generated unrest within the labour circle.
For example, the National Association of Resident Doctors has demanded a 200 per cent pay rise as a result of the action of the federal government while the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have also decried the disparity.
But speaking during the May Day rally in Eagle Square, Abuja, Ngige assured that workers under different wage structures were already bargaining with their employers on a pay rise.
He added that some of those Collective Bargain Agreements (CBAs) were on the verge of being concluded with the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission transmit same for final treatment.
Ngige said: “It will also be recalled that since the emergence of the Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure (CONPSS) on the first of January, 2007, it has not been reviewed by any of the past Administrations. But for the consequential minimum wage adjustment of 2019 for all wage structures under this government in 2019. However , in line with the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerian workers, the Federal Government recently worked out the introduction of a 40% Peculiar Allowance into the remuneration and emoluments of core Federal Civil Servants and other public servants on the CONPSS to help cushion the effects of inflation and other costs of doing their work as they are not on any special allowances.
“This demonstrates the government’s and leadership commitment to improving workers’ welfare and conditions of service even without any Industrial action but a fallout of social dialogue.
“However other workers in the other different wage structures like CONHESS,CONMESS CONUAS, CONTISS that started their Collective Bargaining with their Employer even with Industrial action are wounding up their CBAs for the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission to transmit same for final treatment as provisions were made in the 2023 Appropriations for them with effect from 1st January 2023.”
Ngige appealed to the leaderships of organised labour to ensure industrial peace and harmony remained your watchwords.
President Muhammadu Buhari said his administration released bail out funds for small businesses affected by the outbreak of Covid – 19.
Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha, urged the incoming administration to continue to respect workers’ rights imbued with socio-economic development and driven by the four pillars of the decent work agent to promote jobs and enterprises, guaranteeing rights at work, extending social protection, and promoting social dialogue for consensus building and maintain a sound national industrial relations system.
He said: “We have together experienced the hardships of economic recession and the triumph of its recovery; we have also gone through the horrific period of a pandemic – the global COVID-19 Pandemic and its aftermath. Businesses and jobs were lost and new forms of employment relationships emerged mostly in the teleworking sector of the economy. The importance and relevance of the Informal Economy became pronounced and its vulnerability was highlighted during these times. Social Protection mechanisms both institutionalised and on ad hoc basis were fashioned out, strengthened and implemented at both the national and sub-national levels to cushion the adverse effects of the Pandemic, and additionally, bail – out funds were used to aid some small scale businesses to survive.
“We as a nation appreciated the four-pillar policy framework for tackling the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis to ensure recovery that was put in place by the ILO, and the well-coordinated outcome of the World Summit on the subject held in order to work out ways and means to build forward better that which the COVID-19 had rampaged and destroyed. We thank God that we are alive to tell the story today. Many did not make it.
“The government affirms the need for the enthronement of decent work which sums up the aspiration that all people have for their working lives; for work that is productive, delivers a fair income with security and social protection, safeguards basic rights, offers equality of opportunity and treatment, prospects for personal development and the chance for recognition and to have your voice heard. These elements of decent work concur with our commitment to reduce poverty and forge a path to achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development, and ultimately peace and security in communities.
“Workers’ rights coupled with socio-economic justice make a happy workplace. We therefore agree that a fair economic structure targeted at creating opportunities for all to succeed irrespective of sex, race/ethnicity, age, disability, creed, religion, etc. is sine qua non for progress and development.
“I encourage incoming Administration to continue to respect workers’ rights imbued with socio-economic development and driven by the four pillars of the decent work agent to promote jobs and enterprises, guaranteeing rights at work, extending social protection, and promoting social dialogue for consensus building and maintaining a Sound National Industrial Relations System.”
In a joint address presented at the event, Presidents of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero and Trade Union Congress, Festus Osifo urged the federal government to strengthen the social security net to protect workers.
They noted that if the government was serious about increasing productivity and making progress, it must ensure that the rights and privileges of workers are not only protected but are granted unfettered access to socioeconomic justice.
The labour leaders said: “It is important that we understand that no society can make progress by excluding its major stakeholders; the workers and masses from having an equitable share of the nation’s resources. If we are serious about increasing productivity and making progress as a nation then, we must seek ways of ensuring that the rights and privileges of workers are not only protected but that they are granted unfettered access to socioeconomic justice.
“To this end, we suggest deliberate actions by the government to expand and strengthen the nation’s existing Social Security framework. The Social Investment Programme (SIP) ought to be given legal backing by speeding up the legislative processes towards codifying it in our laws. This will deepen engagement in those areas and provide stronger backing to our quest for socioeconomic justice to all Nigerians.
“We also call on the federal government to begin the process of ratifying conventions 102 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Social protection. This is central to the actualisation of Social justice and inclusiveness. It provides appropriate guarantees for workers rights to survival during and after work life and also guarantees access to decent life for many Nigerians.
“It is important that Nigerian leaders understand that without guaranteeing the rights of workers, without allowing workers to win, Nigerians and Nigeria will not win. We are Nigerians; when we win, our nation wins and makes sustainable progress. It is the duty of the government to provide the right environment for this to happen.
“Our nation must lead with job-led growth. When jobs grow, income increases and the economy revved higher but we need to protect those that work in these jobs. To protect them, we must ensure that the right legal environment is created and frameworks for compliance with laws are established.”