Members of the organized labour led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) have kicked against the proposed N22,500 minimum wage being offered by the state governors.
The labour unions on Tuesday made good of their treat by embarking on a nationwide protest regarding the minimum wage demands. While they were on it, the governors were in an emergency meeting in Abuja to help fashion out a unified minimum wage for all the states.
The governors came out with a proposal of N22,500, which labour has since rejected. During the protest, the labour unions threatened to trade their votes for the minimum wage of N30000 which they are demanding. They vowed not to vote for any candidate that refuse to promise them an improved wage package.
The protest afforded the workers an opportunity to voice their grievances with the government, with majority of them vowing to vote for the candidate that would implement the new national minimum wage.
Their actions, though peaceful, halted vehicular and business activities around the central business district and the federal secretariat, Abuja, for few hours before they dispersed.
A good number of them expressed their grievances through placards with inscriptions, ‘No minimum wage, no work from Nov. 6’, ‘Minimum Wage of N30, 000 not negotiable’, ‘Minimum wage will boost Nigerian economy’, ‘Upward review of minimum wage will not trigger inflation’, ‘Ngige and Governors do not own Nigeria, Nigeria belongs to all workers,’ among others.
Ayuba Wabba, President of the NLC, who led the protest, first took a swipe at the government, accusing the National Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage headed by Ama Pepple of doctoring and bending the facts regarding the wage review in an attempt to delay or derail the process of promulgating a new emolument for workers.
He said leaders of the various unions may fail in guaranteeing industrial harmony in the days ahead unless the Federal Government took necessary steps to ensure the enactment of a new wage Act.
According to Wabba, the new wage benchmark ought to have been effective since 2016, stressing that “the minimum wage Act prescribes a five-yearly cycle of review.”
He said the exchange rate and inflation rose to an all-time high, rendering the N18, 000 unjustifiable as national minimum wage.
“Given the realities of our economic condition, the least any worker should earn is N30, 000,” he said.
Bobboi Bala Kaigama, TUC President, corroborated Wabba, saying the excruciating hardship being faced by workers in the country provides a veritable reason for the implementation of a new wage Act.
“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.
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