Minimum wage: Labour blows hot, hints on war against Govt

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The Nigerian Labour Union and Trades Union Congress of Nigeria has kicked against the 30-man committee inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari to oversee the new national minimum wage, saying its representatives is dominated by governors and that they will not speak in favour of the workers.

The labour has also hinted workers on imminent war ahead to materialize the new wage and might possibly result to protracted negotiations.

NLC and TUC had requested for minimum wages of N56,000 and N90,000 respectively in the last two years. While TUC said it will request for N100,000 in the new negotiation amidst prevailing indices and socio-economic realities in the country.

The leaders of organised labour, represented by NLC and ULC, yesterday, took a suspicious look at the representatives of the NGF on the national minimum wage committed raised by the President, last week.

The governors in the committee are Rochas Okorocha of Imo State; Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State; Hassan Dankwambo, Gombe State; Simeon Lalong of Plateau State and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State The committee headed by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Ama Pepple, has membership drawn from the government, the private sector and the Organised Labour.

Speaking to  Sunday  Vanguard on the issue, the President of the ULC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said: “The presence of these governors in the committee, the fact that some of those representing the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, are mainly those who are not paying salaries and pensions speaks volume. In fact, we fear a stalemate because these governors represent anti-salary payment.

They may be coming to justify why there should not be increment in salary. These are governors who have not been able to pay the N18,000 minimum wage. They may be coming to tell you that the governors cannot bear the extra burden of salary increment.

“Surely, they have no moral justification to be in the committee unless it was by design by the NGF for these governors to represent the group. If that is the case, then the governors have an agenda to frustrate the emergence of a new national minimum wage. Therefore, we foresee protracted negotiations .

“As Organised Labour, we have to prepare for war; a long time battle to confront these governors because they do not want to pay even anything. However they come, we will engage them and ensure that the yearning of workers for a living wage, not just a minimum wage, is met. We have all the indices to justify our demand for even N100,000 minimum wage because    the socio-economic condition, the inflation, the cost of living, the depreciation of the Naira and so on, are there for every body to see.”

Similarly, speaking through its General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, the NLC said it was not unmindful of the dominance of governors that are owing salaries and pensions representing the NGF.

“We noticed the dominance of these governors in the representation of the NGF. The principle of tripartitism is that each party is free to choose its representative. So, the Governors’ Forum has chosen its representatives, there is nothing we can do about that. Yes, we noticed that most of those representing the governors are those owing salaries and pension. But we still have the governor of Plateau State, who inherited a backlog of salaries on assumption of office, has not only cleared all the arrears, he is paying as and when due. We advise other governors to learn from him. So, his presence in the committee is a plus. Nevertheless, we will engage the committee with facts and figures, we will engage the committee and address issues as they come. We are prepared, Ozo-Eson said.

“We have equally said it publicly that, at the time we presented our demand for N56,000 new minimum wage, we did so with the indices on ground two years ago. Today, those indices are different based on the socio-economic reality on ground. Today, a lot of things have taken place. There is high inflation, there is depreciation of the Naira, there is general high cost of living and there is the exchange rate factor. We expect the committee to look at these issues and aggregate things. We hope this committee will function like the last one. The last one even commissioned sub-committees to look at the socio-economic indices on the ground  before arriving at the present minimum wage.”

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