The public is aware that civil servants in Nasarawa State, under the aegis of Organised Labour, embarked on an indefinite state-wide industrial action since Friday, 29th January, 2016. The strike action was predicated on a 21-point demand on Government by the Labour Unions covering a wide range of issues as follows:
i. Immediate release of salary vouchers for the month of January, 2016 and payment of the salary to workers;
ii. All promotions from 2011 to date be implemented, promotions yet to be processed be processed and implemented;
iii. Immediate payment of four (4) months arrears on the implementation of the N18,900.00 National minimum wage;
iv. Full implementation of annual increments from 2011 to date;
v. Payment of pension and gratuities and all other issues related to payment of pension;
vi. Implementation of all professional allowances and the accrued arrears to all deserving workers;
vii. Payment of in-service allowances;
viii. Release of claims of beneficiaries of the 500-unit housing estate, along Doma Road, Lafia;
ix. Payment of leave/transport grant;
x. Implementation of corrected CONMESS for doctors;
xi. Release of report of the Bio-metric/data capture in both State and Local Government;
xii. 65 years retirement age for non-teaching staff of tertiary institutions in the State;
xiii. Autonomy to the 3 state tertiary institutions;
xiv. Accreditation of all programmes in tertiary institutions in the state;
xv. Implementation of minimum wage in tertiary institutions;
xvi. Subvention to all tertiary institutions in the state;
xvii. Review of high tax deduction in health sectors and tertiary institutions in the state;
xviii. Full Judicial Autonomy;
xix. Stoppage of screening exercise in the Local Government;
xx. Stoppage of percentage payment in the Local Government;
xxi. Centralisation of all union dues deduction in the Local Government Councils.
2. Concerned by the adverse effects the strike action would have on citizens of Nasarawa State in general and civil servants and their families in particular, Government took proactive measures by inviting and holding series of meetings with the leadership of Organised Labour aimed at resolving the issues at stake. To this effect, Government held five (5) extensive meetings with representatives of Organised Labour between Monday, 25th January and Saturday, 6th February, 2016.
3. In the course of negotiation with Labour, Government made far-reaching concessions on the 21-point demands made by Labour. Unfortunately, however, the Labour side was adamant in their refusal to reciprocate concessions made by Government in the spirit of collective bargaining. For the avoidance of doubt, this Administration has been faithfully paying workers’ salaries in full since assumption of office in May, 2011. In fact, contrary to speculations that only a percentage of January, 2016 salary was to be paid, Government was ready to pay January, 2016 salary before Organised Labour embarked on the current strike action.
4. In the same vein, Government has agreed to grant promotions to all deserving civil servants to date. However, there will be no financial benefits for the promotions until the economic situation improves. This position is informed by the prevailing global economic challenges which have impacted negatively on revenue accruals to all tiers of Government.
5. Similarly, Government made further concessions on the following demands:
a. Pension and gratuities: Government has agreed to review upward the monthly release of gratuity and pension;
b. 500-Unit Housing Estate, along Doma Road, Lafia: Government has agreed to set up a Committee comprising representatives of the Office of Head of the Civil Service, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Justice and the Organised Labour to address the matter;
c. Corrected CONMESS for Doctors: Government has agreed that the Office of Head of the Civil Service and the Honourable Commissioner of Health will take necessary steps to facilitate the process of implementation of corrected CONMESS for Doctors;
d. Incidence of High Tax in the Health Sector: Government has agreed that the Office of Head of the Civil Service and the Organised Labour should interface with the relevant Tax Agencies and take necessary steps to address the matter;
e. Biometrics Data Report: Government has agreed to liaise with the Skye Bank Plc for the submission of the Report without delay;
f. Judicial Autonomy: This demand is already being implemented in compliance with Section 121 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended);
g. Screening and Percentage Payment of Local Government Salaries: Considering the subsisting agreement between the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and the State Joint Local Government Accounts Committee, Government has agreed on the stoppage of percentage payment of salaries and that Organised Labour should return to the negotiating table with the State Joint Local Government Accounts Committee on the matter;
h. Tertiary Institutions: Government has since met with the Governing Councils of the Tertiary Institutions and directed them to address the issues raised by Organised Labour.
6. It is necessary to state that the door of Government is still open for negotiations with the leadership of the Organised Labour towards resolving once and for all the issues at stake.
7. Government is mindful of the untold hardship being experienced by all and sundry in the State as all Government hospitals and schools are shut down. The cumulative consequence of this is that socio-economic activities across the State are at their lowest ebb. This avoidable situation does not augur well for the wellbeing of our beloved State.
8. In view of the foregoing, Government wishes to appeal to all workers to resume work as January, 2016 salary is ready for payment.
9. Government wishes to express profound appreciation to His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Isa Mustapha Agwai, I, CFR, the Emir of Lafia and Chairman, State Council of Chiefs, as well as members of the State Council of Chiefs and other well-meaning citizens of the State who have, in one way or the other, continued to intervene towards bringing about industrial harmony in the State. Government hopes that this patriotism and spirit of service will be sustained in the overall interest of Nasarawa State.
JOSEPH I. ANCHO, mni
Head of the Civil Service and Chairman,
Joint Public Service Negotiating Council
7th February, 2016.