Security beef-up as NASS workers picket offices over unpaid national minimum wage

•As NASS Service Commission invite PASAN to emergency meeting

There was heavy security beef-up at the National Assembly complex early on Monday as aggrieved hundreds of National Assembly workers under the aegis of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) staged a peaceful protest to press home their demand for immediate payment of outstanding 8-month national minimum wage.

Some of the placards displayed by the aggrieved workers who chanted various solidarity songs during the two hours of the protest, read: ‘Legislators pay our welfare’; ‘Pay us our MOU’ Today’s slogan: Pay our own, carry your own; Don’t even touch mine’; ‘Agreement na agreement’; ‘On our MOU we stand’; ‘Pay us our 8 months arrears of minimum wage and 15 months allowances as captured in the MOU’.

Recall that the Association had in a communiqué dated 6th January, 2022 and issued after the joint NASS/NASC Congress held in Abuja, was transmitted the Congress resolution to the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan; Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabimila; Chairman, National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), Engr. Ahmed Mashi; Director of Department of State Service (DSS); Divisional Police Officer (DPO) at the National Assembly and Head of Sergeant-at-Arms, respectively.

Security operatives who wore hoods were deployed from the Department of State Security (DSS) to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order during the protest.

The workers, who accused the office of the Clerk of the National Assembly of breaching the provisions of the Appropriation Act and Presidential directive for the payment of the national minimum wage, frowned at the abuse of office and misappropriation of funds approved for the payment of the national minimum wage.

While addressing the workers, PASAN Chairman (NASS chapter), Comrade Sunday Sabiyi said the picketing was billed to last for two hours after which the members of staff are to return to their various offices.

He however disclosed that the PASAN Executive would be attending an emergency meeting called by the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) to address issues raised by the workers.

While stressing that the protest was not aimed at destroying “anybody, we are not here to abuse anybody, we are not here to demoralize somebody, but united to demand the workers’ right” on the 24-month arrears of the national minimum wage which came to effect since 2019.

He explained that the PASAN is not unaware of various circulars issued by the Federal Government, through which the President called for the implementation of the national minimum wage from the money allocated to the National Assembly over the past three years.

“Whereas management had earlier identified the supplementary budget 2021 as one amongst various sources of funding the MoU, Congress is amazed that suddenly the Supplementary budget and virement of the 2021 fiscal appropriation have become the source of funding items not captured in the MoU including end of year bonus and promotion arrears.

“That management should pay with immediate effect, eight months outstanding balance of minimum wage; the year 2021 rent subsidy; 15 months arrears of CONPECULIAR allowance; and six months arrears of hazard allowance to National Assembly staff.

“In addition to the MoU, Congress also demands implementation of 50 percent balance of CONLESS, immediate release of 2022 training template for staff members, and evidence of provision of gratuity for retiring staff members.

“In view of Resolutions 1 and 2, Congress resolves to embark on industrial action, commencing with mass picketing from Monday, January 10, 2022, in protest of the breach of the MoU,” PASAN Chairman said.

Recall that the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed had in a letter with Ref. No: BD/2000/EXP/5.597/1 dated 26th June, 2020 addressed to the Clerk of the National Assembly, titled: ‘Payment of minimum wage to the staff of National Assembly, seeking clarifications’, affirmed that the new national minimum wage should be paid from the statutory allocation to the National Assembly.

“I acknowledged receipt of your letter Ref. NASS/CNA/92/Vol.6/455 dated 12th February, 2020 on the above subject requesting my clarification and status of implementation of the minimum wage with regards to other arms of government.

“As you are aware, the National Minimum Wage Act passed by the National Assembly and assented to by Mr. President binds all employers to pay the prescribed minimum wage of N30,000.

“The National Assembly, being a Statutory Agency with financial autonomy, is expected to implement the minimum wage from its statutory allocations, which are released to it monthly,” the Minister stated in the letter.

In response to the workers’ agitation, the National Assembly Service Commission had during its 496th meeting held on Wednesday, 8th July, 2020 resolved to investigate the utilization of multi-billion naira annual budget of the National Assembly which resulted in undue delay in the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage for National Assembly staff since 2019.

This is just as the Commission set up an Ad-hoc Committee on the implementation of the National minimum wage in the National Assembly Service, chaired by Alhaji Auwulu Aliyu Ohindase.

The letter read: “At its 496th meeting held on Wednesday, 8th July, 2020, the commission resolved to set up an Ad-hoc committee to examine the implementation of the national minimum wage in the National Assembly Service,” NASC Executive Chairman, Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi stated.

Other members of the Committee are Senator Julius Ali Ucha (Vice-Chairman); Alhaji Sani Saidu Kazaure; Alhaji Hakeem Akamo; Chief Francis Atanomeyovwi; Hon. Babagana Modu; Mr. Okoro Abosi (Secretary to the Committee); representatives of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) National, National Assembly chapter, representatives of PASAN (National Assembly Service Commission chapter) and Nominations from Management of National Assembly.

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