Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are currently protesting within the Nation’s capital, Abuja against the refusal or otherwise delay by the federal government to approve N30, 000 proposed minimum wage.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)who led the protest alongside his Trade Union Congress (TUC) Bobbie Kaigama, said this at a protest rally tagged: `National Day of Mourning and Outrage’ organised by NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The protesters, who carried placards with inscriptions, “No minimum wage, No work from Nov. 6’’, “Minimum Wage of N30, 000 not negotiable’’, “Minimum wage will boost Nigerian economy.’’
Others are: “Upward review of Minimum wage will not trigger inflation’’, “Ngige and governors do not own Nigeria, Nigeria belongs to all workers,’’ and among others.
According to Wabba, Organised Labour frowned at the manipulation and bending of facts in an attempt to delay or derail the processes needed to promulgate a new national minimum wage act.
“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.
Wabba explained that the new national minimum wage was both legally and materially due since 2016, saying “the Minimum Wage Act prescribes a five yearly cycle of review.”
He also said that coupled with the delay, the increase in the pump price of petroleum products by over 85 per cent and the devaluation of the Naira by 100 per cent in 2016, have massively affected the cost of living.
According to him, the exchange rate and inflation rose to an all-time high, rendering the N18, 000 unjustifiable as basis for continued national minimum wage.
“Given the realities of our economic condition, the least any worker should earn is N30, 000,” he said.
On his part Kaigama hinted that the implementation of the national minimum wage was imperative as workers in the country were faced with hard times.
Kaigama called on the Federal and State Governments to do the needful as N30, 000 was not too much for them to pay workers as minimum wage.
“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.
The organised labour has threatened to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike with effect from Nov. 6, unless the government accepts and commences the payment of the negotiated N30, 000.
The Organised Labour noted that the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage had since completed its assignment for onward submission of its report to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, had said that the Tripartite Committee on New National Minimum Wage was yet to conclude negotiation on the agreed figure.
However, the Federal Government has offered N24, 700, while the state governors also offered N20,000 as minimum wage.