FG Monetises Minimum Wage to Permanent Secretaries

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

Although the federal government is hedging on paying N30,000 as the new minimum wage for public workers, THISDAY checks have revealed that in view of the extant monetisation policy, it is the permanent secretaries that stand to reap the benefits when it is passed into law by the National Assembly.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and state governors are still haggling over N30,000 as the minimum wage for workers, several days after the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage submitted its report to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari set up the committee headed by Amal Pepple to fashion out a new minimum wage acceptable to workers and stave off industrial strike by workers under the aegis of the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

However, some public workers have disclosed the term ‘minimum wage’ can no longer be applied since the federal government has stopped the mass employment of workers at the baseline Level 01 Step 01 in line with the monetisation policy initiated by the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration in 2003 to reduce the cost of governance.

Rather, THISDAY checks revealed, the permanent secretaries are entitled to four domestic workers, whose cumulative salaries are monetised and paid in bulk to the permanent secretaries as part of their fringe benefits.

In addition to a driver, it is gathered that a permanent secretary is entitled to a cook and two house cleaners, who, before the policy would have been employed and posted as level 01 step 01 baseline workers.

The least paid workers who fall within that category are those currently graded on the minimum wage of N18,900 per month, with total annual salary amounting to N226,800.

The argument in the civil service is that since the baseline workers are no longer directly employed by government, the proposed new minimum wage of N30,000 will end up as freebies padded into the permanent secretaries’ emolument.

The allegation against majority of the permanent secretaries is that some of them are short circuiting the monetisation policy by not complying with the quota of four domestic workers for which they are remunerated under the policy.

“While the permanent secretaries have their own drivers, some neither employ cooks nor house cleaners. We have instances where their relations live with them and they hide under the guise of monitisation policy to claim they are paying those workers,” sources that confided in THISDAY said last night.

Under the new minimum wage proposal before government, the annual cumulative sum of N360,000, or the package due for each of the four domestic workers a permanent secretary is entitled to under the monetization policy, will be added to his package.

Since government has ceased to employ at the base level, those employed at the Grade level 04 Step 01 for school leavers will officially step as the least paid in the federal civil service.

Those in this cadre, who can only be employed by Level 17 Directors, Permanent Secretaries and Head of Service via special memos, will earn a little more than N34,000 per month.

The Federal Civil Service Commission is the supervising authority of employment of workers in officer cadre of Grade Level 06 Step 01 into the service.