The Federal Government said it will soon announce salary increments for civil servants and public officials due to the steady increase in consumer goods.
This was as it said a Presidential Committee on Salaries is currently reviewing salaries with a plan to announce its decision in early 2023.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, disclosed this to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
The PUNCHreports that Ngige had earlier insinuated that the FG will review the salaries of civil servants upwards to cushion the effect of inflation.
Fielding questions on the issue, he said, “Yes, that’s what I am saying, that the Presidential Committee on Salaries is working hand-in-hand with the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission. The commission is mandated by the Act establishing them to fix salaries, wages, and emoluments in not only the public service.
“If you want their assistance and you are in the private sector, they will also assist you. They have what is called the template for remuneration, for compensation. So, if you work, you get compensated, if you don’t work, you will not be compensated.
“So they have the matrix to do the evaluation, so they are working with the Presidential Committee on Salaries Chaired by the finance ministry and I’m the co-chair to look at the demands of the workers. Outside this, I said discussions on that evaluation are going.”
Asked about a workable timeframe for the implementation of salaries under review, the former governor said, “As we enter the new year government will make some pronouncements in that direction.”
Ngige revealed that he was at the State House to brief the President on the activities of his ministry as 2022 rounds up.
He said, “Majorly, I came to brief Mr President. You know the year is coming to an end and we have to look at 2022 exhaustively. As part of my ministry, we are to discuss labour issues…and what we are able to do. First and foremost, we look at the employment situation in the country and what we have achieved and what we have not achieved.
“Employment is high and various policies and I have to tell him the successful ones we are in them. We also had a briefing on productivity viz-a-viz the various industrial disputes we had in 2022.”
Citing the ASUU strike, industrial action by sister unions, and strikes by medical practitioners earlier in the year, he described 2022 as “a year of industrial dispute.”
He noted that the private sector managed its affairs better, perhaps because its finances and its management lie within its audit.
“They could do collective bargaining very easily with their workers. The banking sector, food, beverages and finance, insurance, everywhere.
So, there is calm there. We didn’t have the desired calmness on the government’s side because of the government’s finances.
“However, I’ve briefed him, we are doing some review within the Presidential Committee on Salaries, and discussions are ongoing. The doctors are discussing with the ministry of health, and insurance people in the public sector discussing and there is a general calmness.
“Hopefully, within available resources, the government can do something in the coming year,” he explained.
When asked about FG’s position on the eight months’ outstanding salaries due to public university lecturers, he said the matter is still sub judice for proper interpretation of the Trade Dispute Act as it pertains to the no-work-no-pay policy the Federal Government adopted during the strike.
“ASUU has not pronounced anything on their salaries anymore because it’s one of the issues that was referred to the National Industrial Court for determination, whether a worker who is on strike should be paid in violation of section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act which says when you go on strike, the consequences are these: number one, you will not be paid, you will not be compensated for not going to work to enable your employer keep the industry or enterprise afloat.
“That money should not be given to you, and that compensation should not be given. It’s there in Section 43 (1).
There is a second leg to Section 43, it also said that that period you were on strike will not count for you as part of your pensionable period of work in your service. That leg, the government has not touched it, but the leg of no-work-no-pay has been triggered off by that strike,” Ngige argued.
He said the Labour ministry is asking the court to consider the sections of the constitution concerned.
Therefore, “The matter is out of the hand of the executive, that’s us, and on the hand of the judiciary. ASUU has also put up a defence in court, asking the court, yes, we went on strike, but we did that for a reason. So, it’s now left for the court to look at it.”