CEM REPORT, GOVERNANCE | The federal government has said it is going to announce a new salary structure for civil servants in 2023.
The new salary structure the government says will reflect and alleviate the effects of rising inflation.
This is according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who told correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja over the holiday the presidential committee on salaries is already doing a review and is expected to come up with salary adjustment in the new year.
“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.
“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.”
On a possible timeline for the implementation of a new salary increase, he said: “As we enter the new year government will make some pronouncements in that direction.”
Ngige who described 2022 as a year of industrial dispute, noted that the salary structure review was necessary to forestall further disputes triggered by inflation.
“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.
“It’s a year we can call a year of industrial dispute starting from the February Academic Staff Union of the Universities (ASUU) strike which was joined by other sister unions in the university system and even the people in the research institutes.
“And thereafter, threats from various unions including the medical doctors association and its youth wing, the National Association of Resident Doctors, JOHESU which is also the Joint Health Sector Union all were asking for a wage increase.
“Asking for a wage increase can also be understandable because of what inflation had done in the economy and the attendant cost of living for people who have to be workers in the public sector. In the private sector, the private sector employers have managed their affairs better, maybe, because their finances and their management are within their very audit and they could control it, they could do collective bargaining very easily with their workers.
“The banking sector, food, and 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, 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.”
When asked for an update on the eight month’s outstanding salaries the ASUU is demanding, he pointed out that the matter is in court for proper interpretation of the trade dispute Act as it concerns the no work, no pay policy invoked by the government during the strike period.
The minister added: “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, of government, has not touched it, but the leg of no-work-no-pay has been triggered off by that strike.
“So, we are asking the court to look at it. So the matter is out of the hand of the executive (that’s us) and in 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.”