As a prelude to a total showdown with government over the minimum wage, the Organised Labour, yesterday, marched along some streets of Abuja, the nation’s capital city, and other parts of the country, to sensitise workers ahead of a nationwide industrial action billed to commence on November 6, 2018.
The procession, tagged ” National Day of Mourning and Outrage,” started at the Labour House, Central Business Area through Ministry of Finance, Federal Secretariat and terminated at the Villa Gate.
Speaking shortly before kick-starting the procession, President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said Nigeria workers can no longer be taken for granted on minimum wage, adding that government has between now and November 5, to announce a new wage of N30.000 or face an industrial action.
He said it’s is sad for the governors to say they can’t pay the new minimum wage, but busy buying campaign vehicles for election.
According to Comrade Wabba, Nigeria workers have resolved to use their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) against those saying they can’t pay minimum wage, during the 2019 general elections.
On the significance of the procession, the NLC leader said, “we receive the lowest salaries in the world, while our Presidents, Governors, legislators, Ministers and Councillors are among the highest paid in the world.
“Every Nigerian provides electricity, water, road and security for himself. Ngige(Dr. Chris, Minister of Labour) did not tell government the truth. Governance is on trial as ordinary Nigerians are dying due to increased poverty and suffering.”
He further called 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.”
According to him, 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.”
Besides, the labour leader said, 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.
“Given the realities of our economic condition, the least any worker should earn is N30,000,” Wabba declared.
What protesters say
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions: “No minimum wage, no work from Nov. 6, minimum wage of N30,000 not negotiable, minimum wage will boost Nigerian economy.
Others read: “Upward review of Minimum wage will not trigger inflation, Ngige and governors do not own Nigeria, Nigeria belongs to all workers.
“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 should stop grandstanding in Abuja, go back and face your workers.
“New national minimum wage: no retreat, no surrender! N30.000 National minimum wage equals to N1.000 per day, 1.000 per day for a family of six equals N50 per meal,” among others.
Also speaking, TUC President, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, said since government is taking Nigerian workers for a ride, adding that workers would use the power at their disposal.
He said N30.000 of today is 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 crops 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?”
Meanwhile, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state, has expressed his administration’s readiness to be the first to implement whatever resolution reached by all parties in the negotiation in Abuja.
Obaseki said his administration was already paying N25, 000 while others paid N18,000, adding, “we believe in labour and our
government is labour-friendly.”
The governor stated this while addressing members of the Organised Labour during a protest march to the Government House, Benin City, to sensitise the people on the planned labour strike.
Obaseki said: “I want to assure you that whatever we agree in Abuja today (Tuesday), Edo State Government will be the first to implement it,” he assured.
He however urged the protesters to trust in the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari “because of its commitment to reduce the suffering of workers in the country.”
Earlier, Chairman of Edo NLC, Comrade Emmanuel Ademokun said the governor has created a friendly atmosphere that ensured a harmonious relationship between the government and organised labour in the state.
Also, Governor of Jigawa state, Mohammed Badaru, has assured members of the NLC of his
government’s readiness to fully implement the outcome of the ongoing meeting of governors over national minimum wage.
“A meeting with regard to the minimum wage is ongoing. The governors are discussing with the federal government as well, to agree on a fixed minimum wage and I’m sure there will be good news after the meeting.
“The discussion continues, we keep our fingers crossed and hope that beautiful outcome will come after the meeting. I assure you that whatever the outcome of the meeting in Abuja, Jigawa will fully implement the decision of the governors,” he said.
Badaru’s remark was interrupted by thunderous applause from the labour members who visited the Government House.
Early in his remarks, the Jigawa state chairman of the NLC, Usman Ya’u, thanked Governor Badaru for the prompt payment of salaries, pension and gratuity.
Making similar promise, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, said any amount
agreed upon by the negotiating committee on minimum wage would be paid by the administration.
Ortom stated this yesterday in Makurdi, when members of the NLC and TUC, as well as other sister unions visited him to register their support for the upward review of
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Terwase Orbunde, the governor said he was not against the upward review of workers’ minimum wages “in spite of the current economic challenges bedevilling the country”.
“I will work in line with the outcome of the new minimum wage committee. I am known for championing improved welfare for workers. I did it when I was the Chairman of Guma local government area.
“When I came on board as governor, primary school teachers were not receiving the N18,000.00 minimum wage. I stepped up their salaries without waiting for them to mount pressure on me to do so. I wanted them to be at par with other civil servants in the state.
“They did not march in procession before I increased their salaries. I am not against a better life for workers,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, state TUC chairman, Ordue Tartenger, noted that workers should not be forced to protest before they could get basic demands.
Tartenger argued that the minimum wage had to be reviewed upward because the prices of goods, including fuel, had gone up.
“Money has lost its value; prices of all items have gone up and workers cannot afford basic needs of their families,” he said.(NAN)
And from Kogi came a report that workers in the state have rejected the N20,000 minium wage being bandied for the state civil servants.
NLC chairman in the state, Comrade Onuh Edoka, who stated this yesterday in Lokoja, said his members would joined their counterparts across the country in a mass protest to demand for a new national minimum wage.
Edoka, who lamented and rejected the N20,000 minimum wage offer by the federal government, warned that any attempt by the government to pay less than N30,000 minimum wage to workers would be met with stiff resistance.
He said: “Enough is enough; N20, 000 minimum wage is not enough to pay children’s school fees, medical bills, feeding and take the Nigerian worker home. Workers reject the position of the Nigerian Governors that they cannot pay the new minimum wage. The N20, 000 offer is
nothing but peanuts, wickedness and inhuman treatment on workers.”
The labour leader noted that the new minimum wage was feasible if those in positions of authority cut down “on frivolities, prioritise their expenditures, with governors cutting down on their jamborees, wardrobe allowances and huge amounts spent on the houses of Assembly
to impeach deputy governors and speakers.”
Edoka further warned that the N30, 000 minimum wage demanded by workers should not be made a promise cancelled, wondering why the promise by the present administration to increase workers’ wage “is now becoming a difficult issue to fulfill.”
He urged the state government to go beyond the payment of salary arrears and use the Paris Club Refunds to pay workers’ salaries.
Similarly, workers in Yobe state have asked the federal government to approve N30, 000 as
minimum wage to the nation’s civil servants or face indefinite strike.
Addressing journalists after the rally, the NLC chairman, Comrade Ibrahim M. Lawan, said President Muhammad Buhari had inaugurated “a tripartite national minimum wage committee in 2017 to arrive at a realistic figure for minimum wage, while the Minister of
Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, last year told workers to expect a new national minimum wage in September 2018, but up till now nothing has been done.”
“We are calling on our members to start preparing for the indefinite strike which begins from November 6, 2018, we will mobilise our members to shut down the country if government fails to pass N30, 000 naira as national minimum wage.
“Similarly, we are appealing to our members to disregard government’s propaganda or directives of no work, no pay.”
The chairman further called on members to stock enough food items ahead of the strike, adding that “no one knows when the strike action will end.”
In a related development, workers in Nasarawa state also staged a similar demonstration in Lafia, the state capital, and called for speedy implementation of N30,000 minimum wage.
Leader of the Organised Labour in the state, Comrade Abdullahi Adeka, told journalists that in the event that the federal government failed to announce an acceptable figure for the new national minimum wage, all workers shall go on indefinite strike.
According to him, due to the inconsistency of the federal government towards the actualization of the new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers, the state executive council agreed to align its position with the national executive council of the organised labour
to shut down activities.
“To this effect, all workers are advised to stockpile foodstuffs and other essential daily needs as the strike is going to be total and effective,” he said.
There was similar sensitisation of workers in Enugu, the Enugu state capital yesterday, where the TUC Secretary in the state, Ben Asogwa, told journalists of workers’ readiness to go on strike if the federal government refused conceding to their demands.
“We are mobilising workers for the forthcoming nationwide strike to press home our demand for N30, 000 minimum wages.
“I think it is in the domain of the media houses that the Nigeria Labour Congress presented N66, 000 for minimum wage, and the end product after series of negotiation was N30, 000.
“The federal government refused to adopt it, so we are hosting the rally because by mid-night Nov. 6, the nationwide strike will begin.
“Workers are mourning because they are being impoverished. If you look around, Nigerian workers are ranked among the least paid workers in the world,” he submitted.
FG, Labour face-off
There has been a sharp disagreement between labour and government, with the former accusing the latter of tactically delaying the commencement of N30,000 minimum wage. Specifically, Labour claimed the tripartite committee on the national minimum.
wage had since completed its assignment for onward submission of its report to President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Ngige, faulted the claim, saying negotiation on agreed figure was yet to be concluded.
While the federal government offered N24,700, he governor son the other hand, settled for N20,000, a position workers vehemently kicked against.