N’Assembly Leadership, Ministers, NLC Meet over Unpaid Workers’ Benefits, Pensions

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Damilola Oyedele
The leadership of the National Assembly on Monday met with the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige and organised labour led by the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Ayuba Wabba, on the benefits and outstanding salaries owed public sector workers.

This is as the government team disclosed that the government does not currently have the funds to clear the backlog of salaries and other benefits owed workers, running into billions of naira.

At the meeting, issues such as salaries arrears, pensions, promotion benefits, transfer allowances and other allowances, were discussed in the tripartite meeting chaired by Senate President Bukola Saraki with Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara in attendance.

Adeosun declined to speak to journalists after the meeting, but her labour ministry counterpart, Ngige, disclosed that the federal government does not have enough funds to meet the demands of workers.

He however stated that the involvement of the leadership of the National Assembly in the ongoing negotiation was a plus.
“We are here to discuss issues relating to things that are meant for industrial disharmony in the public sector. As you are aware, the labour unions have said the governors have not been treating them well.

“It’s a tripartite negotiation because we have involved the National Assembly and when you do any such negotiations, it is a plus.
“We looked at the issues of salaries arrears, pensions promotion arrears, death benefits, location expenses and transfer allowances, which have ran into billions of naira,” he disclosed.

The minister added that the government was committed to restoring confidence between employers and employees in the public sector in order to improve industrial harmony.
“So we made progress today and we have adjourned to reconvene tomorrow at 4 p.m., all sides are to go back and come back tomorrow with possible solutions, because government doesn’t have enough fund for now to tackle the issues. So tomorrow, we will converge here and sort it out,” he said.

Wabba, in his remarks, disclosed that the pension contributions by workers had not been remitted for a while.
“Also, alongside the issue of unpaid pensions, is the fact that some of the pension contributions by workers have not been remitted for some time.

“Those are some of the issues we came to discuss and we think that the National Assembly has led the process by bringing all stakeholders on board to see how these issues can be resolved in a win-win situation without allowing industrial relations to degenerate,” he said.

Wabba said the negotiations were being held in cognisance of the fact that some of the processes for a resolution would require legislative backing, while some would be taken care of through budgetary provisions.
Commenting on the proposed minimum wage, Wabba said labour has spoke with one voice and has made a formal demand of N56,000 monthly as the least amount to be earned by Nigerian workers.