The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has kicked against the recent drastic deductions of federal government staff, and has called for an urgent review before it declares industrial dispute.
NLC General Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, said labour has received complaints from various quarters over the deductions which he described as illegal.
Ozo-Eson in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja said the increased deduction was unacceptable.
“We got complaints from a number of workers about the pay that they got last month, being a fall compared to what they use to get.
“We have tried to make enquires as to how this has come about, and we heard that there has being upward revisions in the number of deduction that has been taking place before.
“The National Housing Fund, Pension contributions and the PAYE (Pay as You Earn), that is the Personal Income Tax deduction.
“We are at a lost as to how that will happen, because with regards to the National Housing Fund, it is stipulated what percentage of salary goes as deduction.
“So whatever has been deducted in the past is based on that law and therefore you cannot just wake up and change the amount of deduction.
“It will require an amendment and a change to the subsisting law before you can do that effectively He called on the Federal Government to have a rethink on the situation as workers were already in hardship.”
He explained that the Pension Contributions 2004 Pension Act as amended stipulates 7.5 per cent as employee contribution, explaining that what the law allows is that the matching contribution of the employer is set as a minimum and is free to increase what it has.
But for the employee, the law stipulates that, without amendment to the law, you cannot habitually change the contribution.
“If you are going to change what people have being paying as tax, you will need to change the law and that is at least to put people on notice.
“You need to discuss with the employees because it is the workers who are going to suffer this reduction.
“For people to wake up in this harsh economic time and suddenly without even being informed, suddenly see a drop in their “take home pay’’ is something that is basically unacceptable.
“I think that government needs to restore people’s salaries to what it used to be,’’ he said. Ozo-Eson said that NLC would meet its affiliates in the civil service union and other public sector to fashion out how government would be advised to stop such actions.
He said that given the hash economic situation, there was need for government to bring out interventions that would cushion the drastic fall in the income of workers.
“We do not want what will further escalate and complicate the conditions and we are going into the festive seasons,’’ he added.