Incremental Rate, Meager Gratuities: Details Of Deal Between Labor And Cross River Government

In Breaking News, Politics

By CrossRiverWatch Admin

The organized labor in Cross River State on Thursday, last week, suspended it’s 30 day industrial action after a deal was brokered by the Chairman of the Cross River State Traditional Ruler’s Council, Etinyin Etim Edet Okon. This is contained in its Bulletin 17.

All arms of the Unions in the State had embarked on an indefinite strike on October 12, 2021 with a list of 14 demands.

Negotiations had stalled several times with the executive and later legislative branch of government, and then stepped in the monarch, who is the Paramount Ruler of Bakassi.

And, following numerous rounds of negotiations, all parties reached some compromises which will see the State set aside a minimum of NGN50 million monthly for the payment of gratuities.

At the minimum rate agreed (NGN50 million per month), it will take 80 years to clear the current gratuities owed Local Government and State retirees since 1999.

The parties also agreed that the full implementation of the minimum wage will commence when the economy improves.
Annual incremental rates are supposed to commence by January 2022 while the payroll is to be returned to the office of the Accountant General and that of the Local Government split across different parastatals of government.

Read the full MoU below…

A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN CROSS RIVER STATE GOVERNMENT AND ORGANIZED LABOUR (COMPRISING JOINT PUBLIC SERVICE NEGOTIATING COUNCIL (UNION SIDE), NIGERIAN LABOUR Arising from the CONGRESS AND TRADE UNION CONGRESS)

Arising from the  Industrial action declared by Organized Labour in the State with effect from Tuesday 12th October 2021, over lingering labour issues and the intervention of HRM. Etinyin Etim Okon Edet, Chairman, Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council, the Cross River State Government and the Organized Labour negotiated and arrived at the following RESOLUTIONS: 

That the implementation of promotions which is ongoing in the State with effect from September 2021, will end on or before August 2022 in both State and Local Government. 

That the State Government agreed to set aside a minimum of N50 million respectively monthly with effect from January 2022 for the payment of gratuities to both State and Local Government retirees with an additional allocation up to the maximum of that month’s and or year’s gratuity in any month and or year when the revenue inflows increase. Also a committee comprising both Government and Labour leaders to be set up for verification and payment. 

All remittances are ongoing in both State and Local Government. Subsequent deductions to be made alongside monthly salaries.

That full implementation of minimum wage for workers would commence when the economy improves.

That the balance of 27.5% to teachers shall be implemented when the economy improves. 

That the tax exemption and allowance for Teachers should be restored after the legitimate beneficiaries have been ascertained by April 2022. 

That annual incremental steps of both State and Local Government workers shall be restored with effect from January 2022.

That the State Payroll is domesticated in Office of the Accountant-General, while the Local Government Payroll is decentralized and domesticated in SUBEB for teachers, PHCDA for health personnel, Ministry of Local Government Affairs for Staff of Councils and Local Government Pension Board for retirees. Actual salary payment is committed to the salary banks by Directors of Finance and Supplies of Councils.

That the names of the affected Local Government workers have been restored to the Payroll.

That Local Government pensioners wrongly removed from the Payroll had been restored. 

That the lift of ban on collection of check-off dues by NURTW and return of motor parks was referred to the Special Adviser (Labour) and the Commissioner, Ministry of Transport, for resolution.

That the contract for supply of computers to workers should be terminated, and a committee set up to ascertain the outstanding liabilities. 

That the Commissioner. Ministry of Health and Director-General, Primary Healthcare Development Agency, should make a memo to His Excellency, the Governor stating the financial implication on or before 31st March 2022 on payment of Hazard allowance and the balance of 30% CONHESS to medical and health workers.

That the newly employed and verified but unpayrolled staff shall be payrolled effective January 2022. That the Labour Leaders and workers would not be victimized as a result of their participation in the strike action.

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One commentOn Incremental Rate, Meager Gratuities: Details Of Deal Between Labor And Cross River Government

  • What is the Balance Sheet of the Four Week Public Sector Strike in Cross River State?
    The NLC and TUC managed to organise a united strike across the public sector in Cross River State and this was sustained for over four whole weeks. This included both state and local government workers.
    This was a great achievement against a state that is hostile to workers and their trade unions. The State has not paid gratuities for its pensioners for years, has a backlog of promotions, has not remitted deductions from salaries and has yet to fully implement the minimum wage. In addition, interns at University of Calabar Teaching Hospital have not been paid their allowances for the last 12 months and street cleaners of Calabar have not been paid their wages for the last six months.
    In addition, in October 2020 hired thugs caused significant damage to the NLC offices in the state and the Chair of the NLC, Ben Ukpepi was kidnapped and held for three months until being released on 21st June 2021.
    The leadership of the strike did produce regular short one page bulletins for the membership. Seventeen were produced in total. But the strike was organised as a stay at home rather than an active strike. No protests were held except for one organised independently by the pensioners who blockaded the Governors’ Office for several hours on Friday, 5th November.
    This may be why the leadership collapsed and suspended the strike when called upon to do so by the traditional leaders locally. On 10th November an agreement was signed with the State that did not achieved any of the main demands of the strike and gave the State an excuse not to implement the key demands in future.
    After four weeks on strike, the workers of Cross River State appear to have completely failed to meet their four key demands. Why did the trade union leaders agree to end to the strike? Below we analyse these demands, show what was contained in the agreement and provides some comments:
    1. Demand: “Payment of gratuity to our retirees for both state and local government. this has been pending since 2014 and 2012 for state and local government retirees respectively.”

    Agreement: “That the State Government agreed to set aside a minimum of N50 million respectively monthly with effect from January, 2022 for the payment of gratuities to both State and Local Government retirees with an additional allocation up to the maximum of that month’s and or year’s gratuity in any month and or year where the revenue inflows increase. Also a committee comprising both Government and Labour leaders to be set up for verification and payment.”

    Comment: In 2016 the amount of gratuity owed was over N700 million a month only for local government workers. In the following year, the amount owed was almost N300 million a month, just for State workers. Last year the total amount unpaid was over N120 million a month. So the State is not even promising to pay future gratuities as they fall due. The State is only promising to pay the gratuities each month or year “where the revenue flows increase” and is refusing to pay any gratuities this year.

    In Bulletin 14, it was stated that total arrears of gratuities were N18 bn for State and N31bn for local government pensioners or a total of N48 bn. The State has agreed to pay N50m a month so, even if this was just to pay for past gratuities, this will take over 80 years to pay!

    2. Demand: “Implementation of promotions to both state and local government workers.”
    Agreement: “That the implementation of promotions which is ongoing in the State with effect from September, 2021, will end on or before August, 2022 in bath State and Local Government.”
    Comment: So at best, promotions will take another year to complete. But this could be read to mean that “ongoing” promotions will end in August 2022. So it is not a promise that all currently due promotions will be implemented by next year or that future promotions will be completed on time.

    3. Demand: “Remittances of deductions from workers salaries up to date to appropriate quarters immediately.”
    Agreement: “All remittances are ongoing in both State and Local Government. Subsequent deductions to be made alongside monthly salaries.”
    Comment: No admission that deductions were not paid promptly. What happens to any outstanding deductions?

    4. Demand: “Full implementation of minimum wage to both state and local government workers.”
    Agreement: “That full implementation of minimum wage for workers would commence when the economy improves.”
    So implementation of minimum wage is only promised at some unclear date in the future. What does “when the economy improves” mean? Oil price is now already at over $80 a barrel, twice the level expected in the budget for this year. State revenue for 2021 is expected to be the highest ever.
    The four key demands are taken from the Trade Union Bulletin 2, 12th October, 2021. The agreed actions are taken from the agreement between that State and trade unions signed on 10th November, 2021.
    The NLC and TUC of Cross River State should be congratulated for organising a joint strike of both state and local government workers, but the suspension of the strike is a major set-back for the workers of many states where there are arrears of pension payments and the minimum wage of N30,000 has yet to be implemented in full. The labour movement needs to organise more active and effective strikes to win these demands. Until then poverty, inequality, corruption and the resulting insecurity will continue.

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