Salary reduction: Labour threatens to shut down states

The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have warned that the state governors are calling for a state of anarchy in the country over their unilateral decision to cut the workers’ salaries and threatened to shut down all states that engaged in such anti-Labour activity.

The President of ASCSN and former President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who handed down the threat in Abuja on Wednesday said the state governors were hiding under the COVID-19 pandemic to cut workers’ salaries against the National Minimum Wage law.

They accused the governors of unilaterally reverting to the old salary regime (Pre-2019 Minimum Wage) recently; even after the new N30,000 minimum wage and its consequential adjustments have been agreed upon and has since become law.

Comrades Kaigama and Wabba, who spoke at the Quadrennial Delegates Conference of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) in Abuja, said the action of the state governments was illegal and will surely meet stiff resistance from labour.

According to Kaigama, “it is instructive to note that while the Federal and some State Governments implemented the N30,000 per monthly National Minimum Wage and the Consequential Adjustments arising there-from, negotiations were still ongoing in some states of the Federation before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. I wish to call on all the States that are yet to conclude the process to return back to the negotiating table with a view to doing the needful

“COVID-19 should not be used as an excuse to derail the legitimate right of workers. The issue of the minimum wage is a law that is binding on all employers of labour. Observation of the law in the breach is therefore illegal and will surely meet stiff resistance from labour

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“Comrades, it will interest you to note that some State Governments which negotiated the Consequential Adjustment arising from the minimum wage of N30,000 per month with the Organised Labour in their States and duly signed the agreement that arose from the negotiation suddenly reverted to the old salary regime (Pre-2019 Minimum Wage), a decision that was unilaterally taken

“This unwholesome practice is an invitation to anarchy. The affected states are therefore advised to return the salary chart in their States to what was agreed with Labour in the interest of industrial peace and harmony in the States concerned and the country at large.”

Also, Comrade Wabba said: “Many states and employers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to owe workers salaries

“Let me warn that with or without COVID-19, we are ready to take the fight to their doorsteps. It is only to follow the protocols and we are ready to work with the new normal. We should not be under any predicament because we have realised that they are acting under the pretence of COVID-19 to deny workers their rights

“The challenges of COVID-19 is real, but the social contracts by employers must continue to be respected. Even in the midst of COVID-19, you cannot decide on workers misfortune. You must respect fundamental principles and rights at work, which are that you cannot reduce my wage without negotiation, without collective bargaining, without bringing the issues to the table. They have failed to reduce their common security votes.”

He added: “We demand that instead of reducing workers’ salaries, you should go and reduce your security votes. You must account for your security votes because it is our commonwealth, they must be accounted for

“If any state has issues paying salaries, they should bring it to the table and not deny them a salary. Workers have been at the receiving end both in the formal and informal sector

“The fundamental rights of workers should not in any way be undermined. We have notified all our affiliate and we will do everything possible within the provisions of the law. In all of these, the workers and unions must be carried along. If that is not done, then they have violated the law, and we are ready to take them headlong. We will engage them through the table or through confrontation to protect workers at this vulnerable period

“We are taking the states one after the other. You cannot unilaterally reduce workers to pay without social dialogue. Once the information is brought to our notice we will take them up. Workers can no longer be treated as slaves but dignity.

“If there are such challenges from states, we will shutdown states and also look at the best approach and measures that will bring about results.”

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