Labour fears stalemate over dominance of non-salary-paying govs in committee raised by Buhari, tells workers to prepare for war
Governors who owe workers’ salaries have been nominated to represent the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, in the 30-man committee inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari to fashion out a new national minimum wage.
Owing to this, there are fears that the road to a fresh wage regime may not be easy. In fact, organized labour has advised workers to prepare for war to make the new minimum wage a reality, warning that there could be a stalemate and protracted negotiations.
While the Nigeria Labor Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, had, since two years ago, demanded for a N56,000 new minimum wage, United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, on its part, demanded for N90,000.
Meanwhile, the NLC has given indication that it will ask for more than N56,000 this time, whereas the ULC is saying even N100,000 minimum wage will not be enough considering the indices and socio-economic realities on the ground.
The leaders of organized labor, represented by NLC and ULC, yesterday, took a suspicious look at the representatives of the NGF on the national minimum wage committee 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 Organized Labour. Speaking to pressmen 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 Organized 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 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.”