Stories by Bimbola Oyesola
In a bid to save Nigerians, especially civil servants from the pangs of hunger from economic recession, organised labour has urged the Federal Government to take urgent steps to pay thousands of workers their outstanding salaries and allowances to further stimulate the economy.
The workers under the umbrella of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) noted that their purchasing powers would improve if President Muhammdu Buhari could pay the arrears including promotion bonuses. The ASCSN Secretary-General, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal who said this is the right time to act, implored the government not to waste the opportunity.
He said: “We believe that since these federal civil servants and their dependants live in different parts of the country, payment of outstanding entitlements will have positive effects on the economy and douse the tension in the land.
“There is anger and hunger in the country and as a patriotic trade union, we have decided to bring this deplorable situation to the notice of government so that it can take necessary measures to stem the tide.”
The ASCSN wondered why the Federal Government that dole out N713.7 billion to states to pay arrears of salaries and allowances to their workers has refused to settle similar debt owed its own employees even when a committee it sets up to compute the outstanding liabilities completed its assignment and submitted report to the Presidency more than 10 months ago.
It lamented that a bag of rice now sells for N19,000 to N20,000 per bag more than the N18,000 monthly national minimum wage; while a gallon of kerosine costs N1,200 from about N400 few months ago as the price of petrol was increased from N87.50 to N145 per litre.
“Generally, while the cost of goods and services has continued to rise astronomically, salaries of workers have remained static and these are not even paid in some states for the past six months.
Govt moves to curb illegal migration
…Unveils national policy
TO boost decent job opportunities and surmount the challenge of countless illegal immigrants who are Nigerians, some of whom die trying to cross the Sahara and the Mediterranean, the Federal Government has unveiled the National Policy on Labour Migration.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige at the inauguration of two committees (Technical Working Committee and Social Partner Advisory Committee) said this was to checkmate illegal exodus and brain drain
Calling for faithful implementation of the policy, Ngige noted that it is the first in Africa.
“This is of utmost concern to the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as no responsible government would sit back and watch the depletion of its human resources which is the most critical factor of production and national development,’’ the Minister said.
Delivering the keynote address at the event which had in attendance, the Chief of Mission of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Enira Krdzalic, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union(EU) Richard Young, the Country Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Dennis Zulu, Labour Migration representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Justice, Women Affairs, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and other relevant government agencies, Ngige said the risk associated with irregular migration and its impact on Nigeria’s human resources and development necessitated the development of the labour migration policy.
“The risks associated with irregular migration and its impact on the country’s human resources and national development necessitated the development of this coherent policy on labour migration which aims at promoting decent work and respectability of migrant workers, he added.
He noted that the objective of the policy was to promote the good governance of labour migration, protect immigrant workers as well as their welfare and optimize the benefits of labour migration on development.
The Minister further remarked that the policy conferred Regular Immigrant Status on persons in their countries of destination, saying that the policy was developed with technical and financial support of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
He explained that the framework for achieving the implementation of the policy included “the establishment of job centres for the placement of job seekers into genuine vacancies, notified by employers from across the country and abroad.”
Electricity workers hail FG on TCN’s take-over
Organised labour in the power sector has described the take over of the management of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), by the Federal Government as a step in the right direction..
The take follows the completion of a four-year management contract by Manitoba Hydro International (MHI), a Canadian power firm.
The workers under the umbrella of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC), commended government for following the advice of the union in a letter to the President Muhammad Buhari in May, this year.
It would be recalled that MHI Management Contractors won the bid to manage TCN in April 2012, for an initial 3-year period, subject to renewal. The contract was signed on June 16, 2012, while MHI commenced work on July 1, 2012.
According to the union, the three year contract which expired in 2015 was renewed in a controversial circumstance for another one year up to the end of July, 2016.
“It was believed that Manitoba deceived the new government to get the last extension and fought very hard for another, but for SSAEAC’s petition to the President”, the union stated.
Okonkwo said the union believed that the Nigerian counterparts who worked closely with the 8-man MHI team during its four-year contract period and who now constitute the new management team, are well equipped to properly administer the affairs of the company.
In addition, the union proposed that the new management team can be reconstituted to ensure that professionals without “baggage” administered the hub of the power sector.
This he reasoned was against the backdrop that some Nigerians in the team have questionable background and intentions.
The union further advised the government not think of privatising TCN, stating that some self-seeking and portfolio carrying business men and women have started campaigning.
He said, “This is because the mistake of privatization of Generation and Distribution parts of the power sector is getting worse. Instead, the government should look into several reasons militating against TCN which includes poor payment for services rendered to distribution companies and poor budgetary provisions for expansion projects.
“The TCN is in charge of the transmission network, a critical link in the electricity value chain, but blackmailed as the weak link by those who want to hold Nigeria to ransom. Meanwhile, TCN wheeling capacity of 6000MW is yet to be matched by generation companies.”
The company (TCN) was left out of the process that saw the successor generation and distribution companies unbundled from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), which was handed over to private investors in 2013.