By Joan Nwagwu
The Organised Labour has called for a general salary review of core civil servants in the country.
Mr Quadri Olaleye, the President, Nigeria Trade Congress (TUC) made the call at the 2021 May Day celebration, jointly organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the TUC on Saturday in Abuja.
The theme of the 2021 May Day celebration is “COVID-19, Social and Economic Crises: Challenges for Decent Work, Social Protection and Peoples Welfare”.
Olaleye said the upward review of the salary of those in the core civil service was necessary as it was already overdue.
“We demand for an upward review of salary of core civil servants to narrow the gap between their emoluments and those of employees in other segments of the public service.
“We implore the Federal Government to once more direct the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation to set up a committee to undertake this review that is certainly overdue, ‘’he said.
Olaleye, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the recent increase of the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years.
“We also call on government for an upward review of the retirement age and years of service in the entire public service.
“Certainly, what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, ‘’he said.
The TUC president also called on the Federal Government to restore payment of gratuity to civil servants.
According to him, although the 2004 Pension Reform Act was silent on the issue of payment of gratuity to workers, the federal and some state governments have ceased paying gratuity to public service employees.
“Yet, it is gratifying that private sector employers and many state governments have continued to pay gratuity to their employees.
“We demand that payment of gratuity to retiring officers should be restored in the public service to compensate for years of service by workers, ‘’he said.
On issues of pension, Olaleye noted that “no sane society will treat the welfare of its pensioners with disdain.”
He said that it was a global best practice that pensioners should enjoy certain protections such as free transportation, healthcare and income support.
“Whereas, in Nigeria our pensioners are treated with disrespect after meritorious service to their fatherland.
“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, many states have refused to pay pensions promptly, and some outrightly refuse to adjust the pensions in conformity with the current National Minimum Wage.
“We wish to use this opportunity to remind governments at all levels that the position of the Nigerian Constitution precisely, Section 173 (3), on administration of pension is very clear.
“Our constitution demands that pensions should be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service Salary reviews or whichever one comes first.
“So, following the Pension Reform Act of 2004 and the consequent migration from defined benefits to contributory system, the payment of accrued rights by many state governments has remained a thorny and endless issue, ‘’he said.
Olaleye said the organised Labour was alarmed by the unprecedented increase in pension liabilities running into trillions of naira owed by state and the Federal Governments.
He said that states such as Jigawa, Lagos, Yobe, Borno, Katsina, Oyo, and Kano were recently honoured by the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) at its recent National Delegates Conference on the payment of gratuity that was stalled.
He, however, lamented that some states were yet to pay gratuity to their retired workers.
“As a matter of fact, Borno recently borrowed the sum of N12 billion to pay liabilities of gratuity up to the year 2020, while Jigawa is also a model state in pension administration, ‘’ he added. (NAN)
•PHOTO: TUC President Quadri Olaleye