Nigerian workers under the auspices of the Trade Union Side (TUS) of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) have threatened to declare trade disputes against employers at the Ministry of Labour and Employment or drag them to the National Industrial Court (NIC) over the payment of the new minimum wage of N30,000.
The threat was contained in a press statement issued yesterday in Lagos by the acting chairman of the TUS of the JNPSNC, Comrade Anchaver Simon and the secretary, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal.
They commended stakeholders who participated in the just concluded negotiation on consequential adjustment arising from the N30,000 monthly pay.
The JNPSNC stated that representatives of government and organised labour “exerted so much energy, dedication, and intellect during the prolonged negotiation on consequential adjustment before reaching an agreement acceptable to both parties.
“It is necessary to commend millions of workers at the federal and 36 states’ public services for their patience, understanding, and for the confidence they reposed in the leadership of the TUS of the JNPSNC to carry out the negotiation to its logical conclusion.
“We also wish to put on record the roles played by the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and that of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in ensuring a successful negotiation,” the union stated.
The TUS hailed the minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, for managing the trade dispute when the government tried to derail the negotiation leading to marathon meetings in his office before the agreement could be reached.
“We are particularly glad that the labour minister has urged all employers covered by the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act to commence payment failing which the trade unions should declare trade disputes against such employers at the ministry or drag them to the National Industrial Court,” the union added.
According to the TUS, the acting head of the civil service of the federation, Mrs Folashade Yemi-Esan, also deserved commendation for bringing her motherly disposition to bear on the negotiation process and for assuring the country that necessary arrears would be paid.
“We also wish to advise that since the 2019 National Minimum Wage was signed into law by Mr. President on 18th April, 2019, the implementation should start from that date so as not to trigger off another avoidable round of agitation by public service employees and their trade unions,” TUS stated.
The union expressed the hope that all sides to the just- concluded negotiation had learnt a few lessons that would enable them avoid similar mistakes in future including attempts by some fifth columnists on government side to derail the collective bargaining process.
“We are also glad that government has taken note of the need for a general salary review in the public service. We are looking forward to this review and we hope that the federal government will keep to its promise which was made during the negotiation of consequential adjustment,” the union said.
FG, Senate Investigate ‘Job Slots’ Scandal In MDAs
Meanwhile, facts have emerged that the federal government through the Federal Character Commission (FCC) has commenced investigation into the secret recruitment and job racketeering in several Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The investigation is aimed at unmasking officials of the affected MDAs who are the arrowheads in the secret recruitment saga, the beneficiaries and the perpetrators of the job racketeering.
Hints of the probe of the MDAs came from a barrage of questions members of the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs thrown at representatives of the FCC on the alleged secret recruitment exercises in the agencies.
The Senate panel headed by Senator Danjuma La’ah had yesterday asked the secretary of the FCC, Mohammed Tukur, who led the commission’s management team to the Upper Chamber for the 2020 budget defence, to explain if he was aware of the allocation of job slots to some prominent Nigerians by the affected agencies.
The senators specifically asked the commission to explain if due process was followed in the purported recruitment exercises by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other agencies.
Tukur admitted that the FCC was aware of the controversial recruitment schemes by the concerned agencies and had started investigating them.
He promised to avail the committee of his findings as soon as the probe ends.
He reiterated to journalists after his engagement with the Senate panel that the matter was being investigated by his agency.
Tukur said: “Some members of the Senate Committee raised the issue of the recruitment exercises going on particularly in an agency and we said that the issue is being addressed. All other issues that were brought to the attention of the commission are actually being addressed.
“Normally, before any recruitment could take place, it has to pass through four stages. There must be approval from the Office of the Head of Service, and there must be budgetary approval from the Budget Office.
“Then you will come to the Federal Character Commission for the Character Balancing Index which will indicate the states that should be prioritised and those that should not.
“This is because states that are under-represented in that agency that is recruiting would be addressed. It is after this has been done that we will go back to the accountant-general of the federation who will give you the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System number platform as directed by the President.
“It is not one agency’s affair. In some of the agencies, you don’t need to go to the Office of the Accountant-General to recruit. We attend to all issues brought before us and we ensure that justice, fairness and equity are reflected in our reports,” he said.
In an interview with journalists, Senator La’ah assured Nigerians that all the affected agencies would be invited for questioning by the Senate as soon as investigations were concluded.
He said: “I have gone deep into the investigation and I’m doing everything possible to get facts. I will give the necessary updates and information when we conclude our findings.
“You can see that my members were agitated, trying to raise their voices but I asked them to take it easy and let us get to the root of the matter.
“If we are able to prove our case beyond reasonable doubt after our preliminary investigations, then we will start our probe by inviting the affected agencies.
“I’m aware that many Nigerians are worried and they want to know what is happening on the matter. Justice will definitely be done and we will expose all culprits,’’ he said.
Earlier, Senator La’ah had vowed that his committee would expose the promoters and beneficiaries of the rackets even when he was told that beneficiaries may influence the Senate leadership to stop the investigation being conducted by his committee
He told journalists at the National Assembly a fortnight ago that the investigation would be carried out and concluded properly no matter whose ox is gored.
La’ah said that it had come to the knowledge of the committee that some agencies sell single employment slot for as much as N1.5 million.
“We are aware that some of the agencies are selling the employment slots at their own disposal. They are commercialising employment, selling a single slot for as much as N1.5million when we have children who have graduated from tertiary schools who could not get jobs for many years.
And contrary to reports that 100 job slots were offered by the FIRS to the Senate leadership, a senator told LEADERSHIP yesterday that the actual slots given to the lawmakers to look the other way was 190.
‘‘Senate leadership was actually given 190 slots by the FIRS and Lawan gave 26 slots out of that to his constituents.
‘‘He (Lawan) alone took more than 50 slots, from which he gave some people outside his constituency and the Senate.’’
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe the principal officers and members of the Senate who use their positions to get job slots from agencies.
SERAP made the call on Sunday in a petition it sent to the two anti-graft agencies.
It also urged the EFCC and ICPC to probe the allegations that the MDAs were selling each job slot for N1.5million.
“We urge you to prosecute anyone suspected to be involved should you consider there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, and to make public the outcome of any investigation,” SERAP said.
“This alleged preferential treatment in Nigerians’ access to government jobs is a textbook case of cronyism, patronage and corruption. The public interests are best served when public employees are recruited on the basis of their skills, competence and expertise rather than as a reward for political, social and other similar connections,” SERAP said in the petition it sent to the chairmen of the two anti-graft bodies.
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