For the first time in the history of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), its staff may embark on strike if the threat of the Labour Union, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress(TUC) was anything to go by, over the refusal of the Commission management to pay the new minimum wage arrears to its workforce as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The looming strike was disclosed in the 3 pages Union letter to the Chairman of INEC made available to the Herald on Monday, February 17, 2020.
The Commission has flouted the directive of the President on the payment and implementation of the new minimum wage arrears to its staff on or before 31st of December,2019 and the payment should take effect from April 2019 as agreed with the organised labour after the series of negotiations between the parties.
It was learnt that all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) excerpt INEC in the country, had obliged with the President’s directive since December 2019 and the staff of the Commission have been groaning over the non-payment of the arrears of the new salary adjustment and implementation of the new minimum wage on monthly basis.
They alleged that the Commission’s management was being insensitive to the plight of its workforce because they were not beneficiary in the salary adjustment, alleging that it seems the management has fixed the sum in the bank in order to yield interest for them.
The investigation also revealed that the electoral umpire management was yet to pay the Promotion salary arrears to its affected workers since January 2019 till December and not to talk of its implementation in the year 2020. As at the closing hour of work last Friday, no staff of the Commission saw any bank alert in respect of the said arrears.
Also speaking, a human rights activist, Comrade Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman, commended the leadership of the Senior Staff Union for their proactive measure on the development, condemned the electoral umpire management for being insensitive to the plight of its workforce.
Sulaiman who is the Executive Chairman, Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), maintained that the rights group would team up with the union to fight the INEC management if they failed to pay the workers of their legitimate entitlements with immediate effect as directed by President Buhari.
In its letter dated 5th of February,2020 which was signed by One Isaac Ojemnenke,aca, for the Association’s Secretary-General and forwarded to the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the Labour Union under the aegis of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), requesting for the payment of the consequential Salary Adjustment arising from the New National Minimum Wage of Thirty Thousand Naira (N30,000) to its workers on or before 29th February,2020 and failure to do the needful might lead the Union to take appropriate Trade Union action of addressing the matter.
Part of the ASCSN letter read thus; “You will recall that the Federal Government through the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment directed all MDAs ensure full implementation of the new National Minimum Wage and the consequential adjustment on or before 31st December 2019.
“The National leadership of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, the Union that constitute Council 1 of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) is surprised that INEC, the symbol of democracy in Nigeria has failed to comply with the directive of the Federal Government over this all-important wage matter.
“Sequel to the above and the need to promote industrial peace and harmony in the INEC, the ASCSN wishes to request that the INEC management should implement the consequential adjustment on Salary of the members of the INEC staff with the effect from 18th April 2019 on or before 29th February 2020, failing which the Union will be left with no other alternative than to take appropriate Trade Union action to address the matter.
” We wish to inform you that this letter has been endorsed to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Minister of Finance and the Director-General, State Security Service for their information and necessary intervention”.