Labour Unions Insist On N30,000 Minimum Wage To Avert Nationwide Strike

The Organised Labour has called on the Federal Government to stop toying with the rights of workers in the country and implement the new national minimum wage, or risk not being voted for in the upcoming general elections in 2019. It also threatened a total shutdown of the country on Tuesday if government did not accede to its demand for a new minimum wage.

The unionists, who yesterday took to the streets in their numbers to protest Federal Government’s delay in implementing a new national minimum wage, and also to sensitise workers ahead of the proposed nationwide strike, carried placards with inscriptions such as “No minimum wage, No work from Nov. 6’’, “Minimum Wage of N30, 000 not negotiable’’, “Minimum wage will boost Nigerian economy.’’

Others were: “Upward review of Minimum wage will not trigger inflation’’, “Ngige and governors do not own Nigeria, Nigeria belongs to all workers,’’ among others.

The procession, which was tagged ” National Day of Mourning and outrage” started at the Labour House, Central Business Area through the Ministry of Finance, Federal Secretariat and terminated at the Villa gate.

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who gave the Federal Government between now and November 5 to announce a new minimum wage of N30,000, stressed that Nigerian workers could no longer be taken for fools as far as the issue of minimum wage was concerned.

Wabba, who lambasted the state governors’ refusal to adopt N30,000 as a new wage due to limited funds, accused them of wasting resources meant for workers and meaningful development, on the purchase of campaign vehicles for the forth coming elections.

To this end, he warned that Nigerian workers have decided to use their Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) against those saying they can’t pay N30,000 as minimum wage in the 2019 general elections.

“We receive the lowest salaries in the world, while our president, governors, legislators, Ministers and Councillors are among the highest paid in the world.

“Every Nigerian provides electricity, water, road and security for himself. Ngige did not tell government the truth. Governance is on trial as ordinary Nigerians are dying due to increased poverty and suffering.

“A new minimum wage is not a favour, but a right. It is a crime to deny workers their rights. Give us our new minimum wage today. When it comes to salaries of political office holders, there are always enough resources, but when it comes to salaries of workers, the story changes.

“One country, separate laws; no new minimum wage, no vote. Governors, stop grandstanding in Abuja. Go back and face your workers.

“New National minimum wage, no retreat, no surrender! 30,000 National minimum wage equals to N1,000 per day, N1,000 per day for a family of six equals N50 per meal.

“We call on the Federal Government to take necessary steps to ensure the enactment of a new national minimum wage act as we cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony,” he said.

Also speaking, the President of the Trade Unuon Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, said that since government has decided to take Nigerian workers for a ride, workers would use the power in their disposal.

Kaigama, who maintained that implementation of the national minimum wage was imperative as workers in the country were faced with hardship, explained that N30,000 of today was less than N18,000 in 2011.

“They are taking us for a ride, but they don’t think that we have power. Our power is our PVCs. We are going to make a very good use of it. Each worker has the ability of 20 persons in Nigeria. So, we are going to mobilise our friends and family to vote out these crop of people out of office.

“You can imagine governors saying they can’t pay N30,000! How much is the amount as at today, considering inflation and other indices?

“They cannot say they do not have money; the political office holders have the money and also the government. We also know how much they are putting  into politics and the forthcoming general elections.

“Workers are not slaves, but rather they create the wealth of the nation. They cannot continue to suffer. After all, the minimum wage is long overdue,” he said.

It would be recalled that organized labour had earlier disclosed that the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage had since completed its assignment for onward submission of its report to President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had said that the Tripartite Committee on New National Minimum Wage was yet to conclude negotiation on the agreed figure.

The figure to be announced has been a bone of contention as the Federal Government has offered N24,700, while the state governors insisted on N20,000 as minimum wage.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), has dissociated itself from claims by the Organised Labour that the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage agreed on N30,000 as the new Minimum Wage for the country.

This was contained in a letter addressed to Ms. Ama Pepple, the Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage and made available to newsmen by the Director Press of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Samuel Olowokere, yesterday in Abuja.

The letter, which was signed by one Dr. M.F Dankaka, President of the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and the representative of NACCIMA in the Tripartite Committee, said there was no time NACCIMA agreed to that figure, as what they agreed upon was N22,000 as the new minimum wage.

“We refer to the media reports on the new minimum wage figure and the proposed industrial strike action by organised labour over a misconceived agreement perplexed to learn that the sum/ agreement was an outcome of the workings of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage (TCNMW), which we are member.

“At no time did NACCIMA agree to such a figure. Rather, the last figure offered by us as part of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) was the sum of N22,000 and negotiation was still ongoing or the meeting to arrive at a consensus and not by moving a motion.

“We did not also authorise the representatives of the Nigeria Employers Association (NECA) and the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN), to speak on our behalf.”

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