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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Labour-government clash looms as N35,000 wage award sparks discontent among federal workers

Workers Express Frustration as Government's Payment of Subsidy-Relief Wages Appears to Stall

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Tensions are escalating between organized Labour and the federal government as discontent brews over the alleged failure to sustain the payment of the N35,000 wage award promised to workers. Federal Civil Service employees reveal concerns that the government has only fulfilled the wage award for September, leaving them in a state of confusion and financial strain.

The wage award was introduced following President Bola Tinubu’s removal of the fuel subsidy, with the government committing to easing the resulting hardship by disbursing N35,000 to each federal worker. However, recent findings suggest that the payment has been limited to September, raising questions about the government’s commitment to alleviating citizens’ financial burdens.

Civil servants, speaking anonymously, express frustration and confusion, emphasizing that the initial wage award seems insufficient to address the ongoing economic challenges. The absence of official communication from the government on the matter adds to the uncertainty felt by the workforce.

Benson Upah, the Head of Information at the Nigeria Labour Congress, condemns the government’s actions as dishonorable and completely unacceptable. While confirming that the Congress will take action, Upah underscores the need for communication with the government before any decisive steps are taken.

In response to the growing concerns, the spokesperson for the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Bawa Mokwa, attempts to allay fears among civil servants. Mokwa assures that plans are underway to ensure the timely payment of the wage awards, although the specific timeline remains unclear.

Meanwhile, an analysis of the 2024 appropriation budget reveals that the Federal Government has allocated N1tn for minimum wage adjustments, promotion arrears, and severance benefits for civil servants. Despite this budgetary provision, discontent continues to mount among workers awaiting the fulfillment of the promised wage award.

As negotiations on the new minimum wage loom, the head of information of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Benson Upah, warns against any attempt by the government to impose a new minimum wage unilaterally. Emphasizing the importance of collective negotiation, Upah asserts that any unilateral action would be presumptuous, contemptuous, and contrary to the established principles governing minimum wage-setting procedures.

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