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Tensions rise as Labour fumes over unfulfilled N35,000 wage

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The organized labor and the Federal Government are heading for a clash due to the government’s failure to implement the N35,000 wage award for workers consistently. 

Federal Civil Service employees revealed in interviews on Monday that the government had only paid the N35,000 wage award for September.

This payment was initiated following President Bola Tinubu’s removal of the fuel subsidy upon assuming office, aiming to alleviate the hardship caused by the subsidy removal. 

The National Salaries Wages and Income Commission, chaired by Ekpo Nta, specified in a memo that the wage award would be effective from September 1, 2023.

Contrary to expectations, investigations indicate that the government only fulfilled the wage award for September. 

A senior civil servant expressed confusion, stating, “We are all confused as there has been no official communication from the government regarding the matter.”

Another civil servant highlighted the citizens’ suffering, emphasizing that their take-home salaries were insufficient. 

The sentiment was echoed by a civil servant from a Federal Government-owned school in Abuja, stating, “The government needs to stop playing games with our emotions.”

The Nigeria Labour Congress condemned the government’s actions, calling them “dishonorable” and “completely unacceptable.” 

While the NLC plans a response, the spokesperson for the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Bawa Mokwa, assured that plans were underway to ensure civil servants receive their wage awards.

“The process is ongoing. They will be paid. The process to pay the wage awards has commenced,” he said.

Despite this, concerns persist among civil servants. The 2024 appropriation budget reveals that the Federal Government has allocated N1tn for minimum wage adjustments, promotion arrears, and severance benefits for civil servants.

The head of information at the NLC, Benson Upah, emphasized that the congress would oppose any imposition of a new minimum wage by the Federal Government. 

Upah acknowledged that negotiations for a new minimum wage had not yet commenced but expressed optimism that talks would begin soon. 

“This betrays the government’s dishonorable intentions and is completely unacceptable.”

When asked if the NLC would take action, he said, “Certainly, the congress will do something about this but what it will do will be dependent on the appropriate organs of the congress. On communication with the government, sure, we will. It usually precedes our actions.”

 

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