The National President, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Dr Tommy Etim Okon has hinted that in the coming weeks, there will be serious agitation by the organised labour over delay in the announcement and implementation of new national minimum wage for workers by the Federal Government.
According to him, there would also be a lot of clamour by workers, most especially for the payment of N35,000 peculiar allowance, in all in view of the current harsh economic condition being faced by workers.
The Federal Government, however, called for continued partnership and synergy between government and the labour unions in Ministries, extra-ministerial Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for optimal performance and effective delivery of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration.
Director Overseeing, Office of the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare (SWO), in the Office of Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), Dr. Comfort Adeosun made the call at the 4th Permanent Secretary’s Quarterly Forum with leaders of the Joint Union across MDAs in Abuja.
ASCSN National President, Dr Tommy Etim Okon, who doubles the Vice President, Joint Council, speaking at the event, said the meeting was timely as workers would soon begin agitation and clamour for the new national minimum wage and the N35,000 peculiar allowance.
He said information is key and that where “you congregate union leaders from MDAs, you are creating a way to ensuring that there is industrial peace and harmony”.
“Without industrial peace and harmony, there will be no progress. No policy thrives without it,” he said.
Okon also noted that the Head of Civil of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan was very strategic in her engagement with the union leaders.
While appreciating her dexterity and leadership style, he added that the Forum is the way to go, especially taking into cognizance that for “the next few months the issue of a new National Minimum Wage against the backdrop of present economic conditions, will be a reoccurring one”.
“There will be a lot of clamour by workers, most especially for the payment of N35,000 peculiar allowance,” he said.
He noted that the fora provides an opportunity to inform and enlighten union leaders about Government policies towards its workforce.
“This is 21st century strategy to ensure that workers are adequately informed and by so doing it will also encourage them to be more productive,” he added.
On her part, the Director Overseeing, Office of the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare (SWO), Dr. Comfort Adeosun, harped on the need for synergy and industrial harmony for enhanced service delivery in the country.
Director, Communications, Mr Mohammed Ahmed, in a statement on Thursday, quoted Adeosun, as explaining that the Forum was established to improve synergy that would stimulate a harmonious working relationship between the unions and Government for enhanced service delivery.
“It is equally to enlighten them on various initiatives of Government on issues relating to the general welfare of Public Servants and to create an enabling environment for easy implementation of staff-friendly policies that will improve the wellbeing and welfare of workers in the Service,” she added.
She also disclosed that the quarterly event has stalled since 2019 due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the Office.
She, however, hinted that the importance of resuscitating the meeting could not be overemphasised, given the significant role it plays in the resolution of conflict with regard to labour-related matters, anchored on a collective bargaining process through constant dialogue between the two parties.
Adeosun further said that the success of previous meetings had gone a long way in restoring the confidence of the organized labour in Government’s determination to improve the welfare of workers, birthing industrial peace and harmony.
She appreciated the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoSF) for her dogged commitment to the welfare and well-being of the Service.
“This commitment is expressed in the approval to resuscitate the Forum with a directive to ensure its sustenance, in order to consolidate on the existing harmonious working relationship between the Government and Labour in MDAS,” she stated.
The Director Overseeing the office of the Permanent Secretary, disclosed that the OHCSF is committed to ensuring the continuity of the Forum for improvement of synergy and cohesion.
“It is an impetus for the progress of the Public Service, leveraging on conflict resolution mechanism to nip in the bud labour contentious issues, thereby forestalling the escalation of industrial unrest, which hinders national growth,” she said.
She assured the union members that Government would continue to do everything possible to improve the welfare of workers, as well as strengthen their capacities to deliver on their mandates. “It is important for us to be well informed on Government plans, policies, and programmes to guarantee healthy communication,” she added.
Speaking earlier, the Acting Director, Employee and Industrial Relations, Mr Dominic Chibueze Nwachuckwu stated that Government could not function as a critical component of nation-building without the cooperation of labour. “Government cannot deliver on its core mandates if a conducive environment for Civil Servants is not guaranteed and one element, which assures that is the workforce,” he added.
The Deputy Director, Employee Relations, Mr. Dangana Adamu Tende, further explained that the programme will foster synergy between government and labour.
The President of the Joint Union Negotiating Council/Chairman, ASCSN, OHCSF Chapter, Comrade Ameh Sylvester agreed that the meeting will go a long way in sensitizing workers about the policies of the OHCSF, which aims to enhance workflow and to secure buy-in from them concerning the innovative approach to work processes, as enshrined in FCSSIP-25.
He promised that they would disseminate the information gathered and decisions reached to the workers.
The eight Unions represented at the Forum are: Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU), Nigeria Union of Public Service Reportorial, Secretarial, Data Processing and Allied Workers (NUPSTRAW), Medical Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) and Nigeria Union of Agriculture and Allied Employees (NUAAE).
Others were Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), Nigeria Union of Printing, Publishing and Paper Products Workers (NUPPPPROW).