‘Total Showdown’ Nigerian Unions Call General Strike

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Workers on general strike action demand higher fuel subsidies from the government – public sector workers are coming out all over the country again

TRADE Union leaders of Nigeria’s JNPSNC are telling members in public service, in all 36 states and in Abuja, to prepare for ‘total showdown’ with the government should negotiations on the adjustment of the N30,000 new national minimum wage break down.

This is coming as the Senate yesterday appealed to both the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) not to embark on their planned nationwide strike in the interest of Nigeria’s educational sector.

The unions, after meeting, also reviewed downward their demands from 66.66 per cent to 30 per cent for officers on grade levels 07-14 and 25 per cent for officers on grade levels 15-17.

For its part, the government side is insisting on a 9.5 per cent salary adjustment for officers on grade levels 07-14 and five per cent for those on grade levels 15-17.

But workers expressed concern that rather than presenting the two positions to the technical sub-committee as agreed, the government side introduced a strange clause to the discussion.

The workers insisted that the terms of reference of the committee should be to work out the consequential adjustment of salaries of public servants based on the sub-head provided for salaries in the 2019 budget.

They added that efforts by the trade union side to persuade the government to return to the right track of negotiation and agree on a realistic percentage increase had proved abortive.

By rejecting that track, they said, ‘the government side deliberately created a stalemate and thereafter adjourned the meeting of the Technical Committee sine die.’

According to a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the workers said the downward review by labour was due to a promise by government to undertake a general salary review in no distant time.

In the communiqué, which was jointly signed by the acting Chairman and Secretary, Anchaver Simon and Alade Bashir Lawal, the labour side said its demand was very much reductive, bearing in mind that the new salary adjustment approved for some agencies of government indicates a salary GL 01 step 1 officer will be going home with about N150,000 monthly.

‘The Trade Union Side of JNPSNC (Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council) has now resolved that the federal government should reconvene the meeting of the Technical Committee on Consequential Adjustment immediately so that it can conclude its deliberations and ensure that all public service employees benefit adequately from the N30,000 new monthly National Minimum Wage signed into law by Mr. President since April, 2019.

‘It has commenced mobilisation and sensitisation of public service employees in the entire 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to prepare them for total trade union actions in the event that negotiation on the consequential adjustment arising from the N30,000 monthly new National Minimum Wage completely breaks down.’

In a related development, the Senate yesterday appealed to both the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) not to embark on their planned nationwide strike, in the interest of Nigeria’s educational sector.

It has, therefore, promised to wade into the grievances of the two unions against their sister union, Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) and the federal government.

The upper legislative chamber took the decision following a point of order raised by Senator Barau Jibrin (Kano North), who drew the attention of his colleagues to the looming strike by labour unions.

The Senate thereafter resolved to engage SSANU and NASU with a view to amicably resolving their differences over alleged neglect and bringing them into clarification of all contending issues related to their counterparts.

  • Meanwhile the ASUU union, ten days ago has condemned the poor funding of the education sector by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

The union accused the president of presenting education policies that are wicked and criminally against the present needs of youth in Nigeria. According to the union, the present administration plans to deny Nigerian youth the right to know and challenge misrule.

ASUU has decried the poor funding and neglect of Nigeria’s education system by the present administration. ASUU described President Muhammadu Buhari’s policies on education as wicked and criminal against the present needs of youths in the country.

The chairman of the University of the Ibadan chapter of ASUU, Professor Deji Omole, in a statement released on Sunday, July 7, accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of a deliberate plan to starve public education of funds.

Omole said: ‘APC Government’s failure to fund education is a design to kill public universities. The University of Ibadan is groaning terribly due to paucity of funds.

‘Retired academics cannot be replaced because government deliberately refused to make budgetary provision for growth and development.’ He said the crisis has led to staff on the ground being overworked and leading to early deaths of many of union colleagues.

‘Education is not the priority of this government. Due to paucity of funds, many universities, including University of Ibadan, the nation’s premier university, cannot admit many qualified candidates into the universities,’ Omole said.

‘This is dangerous to society, as the rejected qualified and brilliant candidates may eventually take to crime because the country has rejected them. The policy is not only wicked but criminal,’ the union leader added.

  • At the same time Governor Ihedioha has stopped the salaries of workers employed by his successor Okorocha in the last 15 months – Ihedioha’s action followed claims by Imo NLC chairman Chilakpo that the union had evidence of illegal employment and promotions.

The state accountant-general, Casmir Uzoho, was said to have confirmed the allegations of the Imo NLC boss.

The Governor of Imo state Emeka Ihedioha has now stopped the payment of salaries to some civil servants, whose recruitment he alleged was illegal.

There were reports that the workers affected were those employed under the administration of Ihedioha’s predecessor Rochas Okorocha between January 2018 and March 29, 2019.

According to the governor, the recruitment of the affected workers did not follow due process.