Labour Unions Fumes As FG Slashes Wage By N100 Billion

Labour Unions Fumes As FG Slashes Wage By N100 Billion

Labour unions have slammed the Federal Government for slashing the supplementary budgetary allocation for wage awards to federal civil servants by N100 billion, insisting that was not their agreement with the government.

Data obtained from the newly Revised 2023 Supplementary Budget, indicated that the government swapped the controversial N5 billion presidential yacht votes for Navy barges, increased the budget for defence from N476.54 billion to N546.21 billion and earmarked N20 billion as capital supplementation for the National Intelligence Agency.

The Ministry of Defence budget rose from N476.54 billion to N546.21 billion in the revised budget, indicating an additional allocation of N69.67 billion.

Under the ministry, the Nigerian Navy, earlier caught up in the controversial N5.095 billion for purchasing a presidential yacht, got an additional N25bn to its total allocation.

Its allocation rose from N62.8 billion in the proposed supplementary budget to N87.8 billion in the approved document.

Also, in the revised budget, the presidential yacht was replaced with the purchase of a self-propelled barge with the same amount of N5.095 billion. Self-propelled barges are cargo-carrying vessels engineered explicitly for operation on inland waterways.

The Nigerian Navy also got extra allocation for constructing two buildings in Enugu and Ebonyi worth N3 billion each, and about N19 billion was also allocated for the purchase of two tugboats, which are used to pull or push other large ships for manoeuvring or salvage purposes.

The Defence Intelligence Agency got an extra N30 billion to its total allocation, from N17.04 billion in the proposed document to N47.04 billion in the approved copy.

It was further observed that the purchase of official vehicles for the office of the First Lady valued at N1.5 billion remained in the budget,  the education loan fund for funding student loans was increased to N10 billion from N5.5 billion previously allotted, while the allocations to the Office of the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, increased by N20.3 billion from N29.7 billion to N50.02 billion.

The newly revised document also showed that the Labour unions’ four-month wage award would cost the Federal Government about N110 billion, whereas the proposed wage award was to cost the government N210 billion.

Recall that the Federal Government, as part of efforts to appease labour unions, granted a wage award of N35,000 to all Federal Government workers beginning from September, pending when a new national minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.

NLC, TUC Kicks

Commenting on the development, the Assistant General Secretary of Nigeria Labour Congress, Chris Onyeka, in an interview with PUNCH, frowned at the reduction, stressing that the agreed N35,000 wage award to all federal workers should be increased.

He said, “Are you saying they cut down the wage awards by N100bn? Well, we have been talking about the high cost of governance and if they decided to reduce their bills by cutting down their numerous aides and assistants, that’s alright.

“But if it is that they don’t want to pay workers what they are supposed to pay, then there is a problem. How can you subject workers to further reductions in their salaries? No way! We agreed to a wage award of N35,000 to all federal workers, so the wage award has to increase.”

Also speaking, the Head of Information (NLC), Benson Upah, said the Labour unions were unaware of the latest development before it was done, pointing out the inconsistency of the current administration.

He said, “We were not informed before this was done. However, this behaviour is not inconsistent with the psychology of this government. It’s sad!”

Similarly, the Trade Union Congress  (TUC) National Deputy President, Tommy Etim, warned the Federal Government against playing games with the wage award for Nigerian workers.

He said, “The government cannot play games with the wage award because it was an agreement reached with the organised labour and the instrument of agreement reached was deposited in the court.

“The government is the manager of funds and our business is to ensure compliance to the agreement is reached.”

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