The organised labour unions in the country are demanding a new minimum wage as well as regular payment of pensions for workers in the New Year among other issues.
According to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, the state governments have not been faithful to the new provisions of the Pension Reform Act, 2014.
Specifically, the President, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, in a New Year message stated that only eight states out of 36 states had started remitting contributions as of April, 2015.
He promised that the congress would work in collaboration with the state governments to ensure payment of pension arrears of retirees and compliance with the Contributory Pension Scheme as provided for in the Pensions Reform Act of 2014.
The Contributory Pension Scheme was revised from 7.5 per cent contribution by the employer and employee to 8 per cent for the employee and 10 per cent for the employer, bringing the minimum total contribution for both parties to 18 per cent as against 15 per cent under the old law.
said, “One of the legacies of the misrule of the preceding years is the incidence of irregular and non-payment of pensions of our retired civil servants and senior citizens. While salaries were being owed for up to nine months, the situation of the pensioners is worse as many states are in arrears of pension payment for12 months or more.
“While the Contributory Pension Scheme, first introduced in 2004 and further amended in July 2014, sought to provide long-term solution to our pension crisis, many of the states have not made enough effort for their civil servants to join the scheme.
“In the same vein, we shall mobilise all employers to pay the new pensions contribution of 18 per cent of total pay which came into effect with the signing of the new pension Act into law in July 2014.”
He added that the N18,000 minimum wage was due for an upward review after five years as stipulated in the National Minimum Wage Act of 2011.
He explained that high purchasing power and high inflation rate would be put into consideration during negotiations.
Wabba alleged that the aversion of the governors to the payment of N18,000 was an attempt to discourage its upward review.
“An issue of great concern to the working class in Nigeria today is that of the national minimum wage which is due for an upward review. The National Minimum Wage Act of 2011 established parameters for reopening negotiations for a new national minimum wage, which is to be reviewed every five years. As things are right now, with the sharp devaluation of the naira, the existing N18, 000 minimum wage equally declined in value, thereby worsening the cost of living for workers,” he said.
The NLC president said, “It is however bothersome that the governors flew a reprehensible kite of minimum wage reduction in 2015. NLC did realise that this was a strategy to get us talking about retaining the paltry sum of N18,000 as minimum wage instead of calling for an increment.”
In the same vein, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria urged the government to ensure that workers were paid fair wages as negotiations would commence this year.
However, the President, TUC, Bobboi Kaigama and the Secretary General, TUC, Musa Lawal, predicted a tough year due to expected sacking of workers by employers without due negotiations with their unions.
However, the leadership of the congress said they were ready for peaceful industrial relations with the support of other stakeholders.
The union leaders said, “Though we desire a peaceful industrial atmosphere in 2016, the organised labour alone cannot work it out. Everyone has a contribution to make. Truly we envision a tougher 2016, in the area of agitations against employers who sack workers without engaging the umbrella unions to negotiate their entitlement and against employers who disallow unionisation.”
He added that agitations would be made “against employers who bring in expatriates for jobs Nigerians can handle efficiently and effectively; against those who illegally recruit in the public services and against corruption in high places.”