It’s harmonisation, not slash, says FG
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said the proposed slash in workers’ salary by the Federal Government should be regarded as a plan to embark on mass murder of workers in the country. The NLC, in a statement titled, “We have no more blood to bleed,” yesterday in Abuja, was reacting to a statement credited to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who revealed ongoing plans to reduce the high cost of governance by cutting down on the salaries of Nigerian workers. This came as the Federal Government, however, put the development in proper perspective, saying it was only planning a process of harmonising salaries rather than slashing.
The minister was also reported to have directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to immediately review the salaries of civil servants as well as the number of federal agencies in the country. The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who condemned and rejected both plans, lamented that workers were finding it difficult to survive and shouldn’t be subjected to further torture. According to him, the move is not only in violation of relevant International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) conventions and declarations on wages and decent work, but was proposed at a time when many countries are increasing workers’ salaries, extending security coverage and providing all forms of palliatives to help their people scale through the terrible socio-economic dislocations occasioned by COVID-19.
He said: “It is most unthinkable that government would be contemplating to unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time. The question to ask is, which salary is government planning to slash?” It certainly cannot be the meagre national minimum wage of N30,000 which, right now, cannot even buy a bag of rice.
“The proposed slash in salaries is certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries that some callous state governors are still dragging their feet to pay. “It is public knowledge that the multiple devaluation of the naira in a very short time and the prevailing high inflation rate in Nigeria have knocked out the salaries earned by Nigerian workers across board. Nigerian workers are only surviving by hair’s breath. Indeed, Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs.
“It is, therefore, extremely horrendous for a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pronounce salary slash for Nigerian workers at this time. “This call for salary slash by Mrs. Zainab Ahmed is tantamount to a mass suicide wish for Nigerian workers. It is most uncharitable, most insensitive, most dehumanizing and most barbaric.
It would be completely absurd for the Nigerian government to be thinking of salary slash.” While demanding an apology from the Finance Minister and urging President Muhammadu Buhari to call same to order, the NLC noted that the salaries and allowances of political office holders should be slashed, as they do so little, but cart away humongous amount of money, which would reduce the high cost of governance. “Nigerian workers demand an immediate retraction and apology by the Minister of Finance. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Minister of Finance to order now before she sets Nigeria on fire with her careless statements.
“If there is any salary that needs serious slashing, it is the humungous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political office holders in Nigeria who do very little, but collect so much. “We urge government, as a social partner, to quickly respond to the demands by labour for an upward review of salaries of all Nigerian workers. Nigerian workers have showed sufficient understanding with government through the tough patches of the pandemic. Now, Nigerian workers demand reciprocity of our understanding. Nigerian workers demand an increase in their remunerations and allowances. Enough is enough,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, however, clarified the report, saying it was more of harmonisation. In a statement issued by the Media Assistant to the Minister, Mallam Tanko Abdullahi Yunusa, the Federal Government said in place of salary slash, it is actually planning a salary harmonisation. “What government hopes to achieve is to redistribute wages equally across board. Let us bring our salary structure within government agencies as close or as equitable and fair,” Ahmed said.