Organised Labour yesterday tasked Nigerian workers to begin mobilisation for a prolonged strike which may commence in few days to press home their demand for the N30,000 minimum wage recommended by the tripartite committee.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Ayuba Wabba, in the New Year message said government’s dilly-dallying on the issue has strained its relationship with Labour with a potential for a major national strike, which could just be days away.
NLC in December had declared January 8 as a day of national protest to drive home its demand for a new minimum wage.
The protest, according to the NLC president, is to express anger and total dissatisfaction over the delay by the federal government in transmitting, enacting and implementing the new national minimum wage of N30,000.
It was also sequel to President Muhammadu Buhari’s latest position that a technical committee will be set up to review the demand, while state governors have proposed N22,500.
Wabba, in the NLC new year message, lamented that 2018 remains one of the most traumatic for workers, especially given the failure of government to enact and implement the new national minimum wage of N30, 000. This, he said, was in spite of the unimpeachable tripartite process leading to the agreement by the social partners on the new national minimum wage.
He said: “It is unfortunate that the federal government is yet to transmit to the National Assembly an executive bill for the enactment of N30, 000 as the new national minimum wage. “Accordingly, we would use this opportunity to appeal to the government to do the needful, by urgently transmitting the bill on the new national minimum wage to the National Assembly.
“We also would like to use this same opportunity to urge workers to fully mobilise for a prolonged national strike and enforce their right.”
Wabba said the strike action has become the inevitable last option for the workers, adding that labour craves the understanding and support of all Nigerians and businesses.
“We want to assure workers that their labour, patience and diligence will not be in vain, and that this leadership remains committed to giving all it takes to ensure they get just and fair wages due to them in a decent work environment, appropriate to their wellbeing,” he added.
The labour leader said the leadership is similarly committed to ensuring there is social protection for workers.
He said the new year presents great opportunities for workers, pensioners, civil society allies, their friends and families to put their numbers to good use by voting out, not on the basis of tribe or religion, but purely policy, any candidate who cannot serve their interest.
Among other things, the NLC president assured that in 2019, the Congress remains unequivocally committed to the campaigns for industrialisation and against selective enforcement of “No work… no pay” policy of government
He said: “We will work assiduously to promote and advocate the removal of all barriers to industrialisation, growth and productivity. We should be able to build a country where we produce what we consume. We cannot continue to export precious jobs away to other countries through successive poor policy choices of government and expect to change our unfortunate status as the poverty capital of the world.”
Wabba said government, at different levels in Nigeria, in 2018, tried to use the “No-work-no-pay” to hound and victimise workers.
“This policy actually arises from clear violation of collective bargaining agreement by the same government that seeks to use the policy against workers.
“We have tolerated this evil culture of prolonged salary indebtedness for a long time and government has taken advantage of our patience to extend the frontiers of this impunity to the policy dump site of “no-work- no-pay.” The NLC will continue to resist such unjust, draconian and insensitive policy and insist that workers’ salaries, pension and gratuity must be paid as when due.”