Unpaid arrears: Crisis brews as National Assembly workers begin strike, picketing on Monday

NASS Complex

Workers at the National Assembly under the auspices of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria have resolved to begin industrial action accompanied with picketing of the federal parliament on Monday.

The workers are protesting against non-payment of a backlog of unpaid salaries and allowances, among others.

The National Assembly and National Assembly Service Commission chapters of PASAN held a joint congress in Abuja on Thursday where it was resolved that the workers should down tools, about one week before the lawmakers are to return from recess.

Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives had embarked on Christmas and New Year break. Plenary is scheduled to resume on January 18, 2022.

However, in a letter released by PASAN after the congress, a copy of which our correspondent obtained, the workers accused the management headed by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Amos, of failing to implement the agreements earlier signed with them in a Memorandum of Understanding.

The letter, which was addressed to the Clerk and dated January 6, 2022, was titled ‘Resolutions of the Joint Congress of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (National Assembly Service Commission/ National Assembly) Chapters Held on 6th January 2022.’

It was signed by Chairman, NASS Chapter, Sunday Sabiyi; and Vice-Chairman, NASC, M. A. Liman.

It was copied to President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Executive Chairman, NASC; National President, PASAN; Department of State Services, NASS; Divisional Police Officer, NASS; and Head of Sergeants-at-Arms.

The letter read in part, “Following (the) management(’s) breach of the Memorandum of Understanding entered with PASAN on the 13th of April, 2021, on the full implementation of the new National Minimum Wage Act 2019 and the Revised Conditions of Service, (the) congress hereby observes the following:

“Breach of MoU by the decision of management not to honour it as at 31st December 2021, being the end of fourth quarter 2021; that in contravention of the new National Minimum Wage Act, 2019, management violated the said Act by shortchanging staff by eight months.

“Non-payment of Rent Subsidy; non-payment of 15 months arrears of CONPECULIAR allowance, including correction of miscalculated payments of the allowance; non-payment of six months arrears of hazard allowance for National Assembly staff.”

PASAN noted that while the management had earlier identified the Supplementary Budget 2021 as one amongst the various sources of fund to implement the MoU, the workers were “amazed that suddenly, the supplementary budget and virement of the 2021 fiscal appropriations have become the source of funding items not captured in the MoU, including end of year bonus and promotion arrears.”

The notice further read, “Resolutions in view of the contraventions above, the NASC/NASS joint emergency congress resolves as follows:

“That Management should pay with immediate effect, eight months outstanding balance of minimum wage; year 2021 rent subsidy; 15 months arrears of CONPECULIAR allowance; six months arrears of hazard allowance to National Assembly staff.

“In addition to the MOU, congress also demands implementation of 50 per cent balance of CONLESS, immediate release of year 2022 training template for staff, (and) evidence of provision of gratuity for retiring staff.

“In view of Resolutions 1 and 2, congress resolves to embark on industrial action, commencing with mass picketing from Monday, 10th January 2022, in protest of the breach of the MoU.” Punch


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