NLC alleges fresh plot by government to thwart new minimum wage
Nasarawa suspends reduction of workers’ salaries
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has accused the Federal Government of embarking on subterranean moves to sabotage the demand for a new minimum wage.
The President of the Congress, Ayuba Wabba, also declared the time for President Muhammadu Buhari to tweak his economic policies to enable Nigeria exit the acute hunger ravaging the country.
In the meantime, the Nasarawa State Government has suspended the slash of workers’ salaries, as it sets to inaugurate a committee that will dialogue with Labour on areas of disagreement.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Yusuf Usman, stated this in Abuja, at the resumed negotiation with Labour over the death of two workers on July 29th during a protest.
This gives an indication that the present strike by the workers may be suspended later.
Both the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on April 26, 2016, proposed a new minimum wage of N56, 000, saying the decision to review the current N18, 000 wage.
While government agreed to discuss the new minimum wage in principle after the last NLC protest against fuel price from N87 to N145 per litre, the body language from government so far has not shown enough willingness to further the dialogue.
Wabba decried the lackadaisical attitude of government in the last few months saying the 14-man committee had met only once.
Wabba, who spoke in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital during the 14th NLC Rain School, urged the Nigerian workers to brace up for a showdown with the current administration. He insisted that there was nothing on ground to indicate a break away from the past administrations’ penchant to impoverish the working poor.
The school, which had ‘the labour movement and an alternative development Strategy’, as theme, the Centre explained that the training programme is aimed at improving the capacity of its members with a view to acquainting them with new trends in labour relation matters.
Wabba insisted that that fresh minimum wage is long overdue.
He added: “The minimum wage is long overdue. As you are aware, we have put formally before government a platform to be created for us to engage the system through a tripartite system as provided by the law. However, since that request had been made, I think we had only one meeting where they said well, we are going to constitute the tripartite committee. As I speak to you today, that tripartite committee has not been put in place. And therefore, the delay also means that they are trying to sabotage or make sure that we don’t get out rights. We are going to start agitations immediately.”
Wabba also hinted that Congress has directed state councils where salaries are not paid for a maximum period of three months to proceed on indefinite strike until salaries are paid.
“We have decided on own after meeting with all the state councils and the unions to say that where we have liability of three months of either salary, pension or gratuity, you must be seen to start an action. We at the centre are poised to give you support,” he said.
The NLC boss also alleged that virtually all the economic policies of the present administration were aimed at eroding the little gains achieved by the workers in the recent years.
Warning the workers to brace up for the hard times awaiting them, Wabba said: “The challenge before all of us in an economy that is technically in recession is that our government didn’t seem to get their acts right.
Because if you look at the responses, it is geared towards taking away the gains that we have been able to make over the years. As it were, nothing has changed, and if the narrative has not changed, we must do what we need to do to engage the system. In fact, if not because of what we did, government would have started another round of increase in the per litre pump price.
“This is because if they had predicated the initial increase on the exchange rate of Naira to a dollar, which has been on a free fall from the beginning of last year, the price would have shot up.”
The NLC president warned the workers never to be under any illusion that their demands would be gotten on a platter but rather through collective struggle and agitations.”
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