The Nigerian government says a pronouncement on workers’ wages will be made in the new year, raising hopes of a wage increase for workers in the country.
Nigerian Labor and Employment Minister Chris Ngige had this to say on Friday while briefing House correspondents on his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“Going into the New Year, the government will make some pronouncements in that direction,” Ngige said when asked to give a timetable on the government’s plans to raise workers’ wages to cushion the effect of inflation in the country. .
“I reported and we are doing a review within the Presidential Salary Commission. Discussions are ongoing. The doctors are discussing with the Ministry of Health; insurance people in the public sector discussing under ASSIBIFIE.
“There is a general calm and hopefully, within the resources available, the government can do something next year.”
He said that the National Commission of Wages, Income and Salaries is empowered by law to set wages, salaries, emoluments, not only in the public service but also in the private sector.
“If you want their assistant and you are in the private sector, they will help you too. They have what is called the compensation pay template.
“If you work, they compensate you; If you don’t work, they don’t compensate you. So, they have the matrix to do the evaluation.
“So, they are working with the Presidential Salary Commission”, chaired by the Minister of Finance; I am the co-chair, to see the demands of the workers.“
The Labor Minister said he also discussed labor issues with the president as the end of the year approaches.
“You know that the year is coming to an end and we have to look at our 2022 exhaustively. On behalf of my ministry, we had to discuss labor issues and what we could do.
“First, we analyze the unemployment situation in the country and what we have achieved and what we have not achieved.
“Unemployment is high; various policies we have. We have to tell you the successful ones.
“I also gave him a report on productivity in the face of the various labor conflicts we had in 2022.
“It is a year we can, a year of labor conflicts, starting with the ASUU strike in February, which was joined by other brother unions in the university system, and even paralyzing the research institutes.
“Then strikes by various unions, including the doctors’ association and the youth wing of the Resident Doctors Association, JOHESU, which is also the Joint Health Sector Union, calling for a pay increase.”
Calling for a pay rise might also be understandable, Ngige said, given what inflation has done to the economy and what the cost of living has been for workers, especially in the public sector.
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Ngige also commented on the eight months of pending salaries that the Universities Academic Staff Union, ASUU, is demanding for its members, following the government’s insistence on the no work, no pay policy.
“ASUU has no longer ruled on their salaries because it is one of the issues that was referred to the National Industrial Court to determine whether a worker who is on strike should receive a payment in violation of Section 43 of the Commercial Disputes Law, which says that when you go on strike, the consequences are these:
“Number 1, you will not be paid; You will not be compensated for missing work to allow your employer or industry to keep the industry afloat.
“That money should not be given to you; that no compensation should be given. It’s there in Section 43(1).
“The second tranche of Section 43 also says that that period in which you are on strike will not count for you as part of your period of pensionable work in your service.
“That leg, the government is not touching it yet. The leg of not working not paying has been triggered by that strike.
“So we are asking the court to review it. The matter is out of the hands of the executive now and in the hands of the judiciary.
“ASUU also defended itself in court, asking the court that yes, we went on strike, but we did it for a reason.”
He said that the matter is left for the National Labor Court to decide.