Sunday 22 November 2015

Minimum Wage: Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) accuses Governors of declaring war on workers

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)
The Nigeria Labour Congress said on Sunday that the state governors had declared war on the Nigerian workers by a recent declaration by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum that its members could no longer sustain the N18,000 Minimum Wage.

The NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said in a statement on Sunday that the congress would mobilise workers against the attempt by the NGF to reverse the Minimum Wage.

The NGF Chairman, Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Adamawa State, had said after a meeting of the forum that the Minimum Wage was imposed on the governors when the price of oil was $126 per barrel in the international market as against the prevailing $41.

He said that the Minimum Wage came into being in 2011 after two years of agitation by the labour movement and negotiations.

The NLC expressed shock over Yari’s statement that the N18, 000 National Minimum Wage promulgated into law in 2011 was no longer sustainable because of the fall in the price of crude oil.
Wabba said, “We wish to make it abundantly clear that this attempt to reverse the National Minimum Wage is a declaration of war against the working people of this country, and we would have no alternative than to mobilise to respond to this act of aggression by the political class on our welfare.
“For the records, the 2011 National Minimum Wage came into existence after almost two years of agitation and eventual negotiation by the tripartite of government (represented by both the federal and state governments), the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association representing other employers (in the private sector) and organised Labour.
“This is in the best tradition of tripartite negotiation recognised and codified by the International Labour Organisation. As organised labour, we submitted a request for N52,000 and provided justification for it as the minimum wage, which a worker and his recognised legal dependents need to live a healthy life over 30 – 31 days in a month.”
The congress said it reluctantly agreed to the N18,000 wage out of patriotic disposition and consideration, saying the amount was grossly inadequate as a living wage.
The statement added, “The governors cannot therefore want Nigerians to take them seriously by their present claim that the current national minimum wage was “imposed” on them.
“For us, we know as a fact that ability to pay minimum wages is not the problem of the economy. What is the problem for states and other tiers of government is the amount of many political office holders and their unproductive aides take away as wages. For the private sector, the creed to accumulate more and more profit is also always a motivating factor to keep wages down.
“The hundreds of billions of Naira our public office holders continue to filter away in the name of governance are what are not sustainable.
“For instance, the annual cost to the public purse of governors’ ‘security votes’ which is an unaccountable drain on the public resources, is worth several thousands of minimum wages per state.”

Credit: Punch

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