Stay at Home Till Further Notice, Organised Labour Tells Workers
Organised Labour has directed workers in both the public and private sector to remain at home as from midnight Thursday, till further notice in protest against government failure to reconvene the tripartite committee on the new National minimum wage after the expiration of a 14 day ultimatum given to government.
Addressing a joint news conference in Abuja, leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) said development since the ultimatum was given by the workers is a clear indication that the government was not serious with the issue of the new National minimum wage.
Organised labour had on Sept. 12 given the Government a 14-day ultimatum insisting that the Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage should be reconvene to conclude its work within the stipulated time frame.
They had warned that failure to reconvene the committee will lead to a nation wide industrial action by workers.
Speaking on behalf of the other Labour leaders, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the strike is expected to affect all public and private schools, banks, fuel stations and all private and public institutions across the country.
He said the action is in compliance with the decision of the various organs of the organized labour which endorsed the 14-day ultimatum served on the government by members of the Organised Labour who are members of the Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage.
“The Labour organs further mandated the leadership to take all necessary steps including a warning strike in the first instance to compel the government to reconvene the meeting of the Committee in order to bring it to a logical conclusion.
“in compliance with this mandate, all workers in the public and private sectors at all levels across the country have been directed to comply. Industrial unions, state councils, all worker organistions and our civil society allies have been directed to step up mobilization of their members. All public and private institutions, offices, banks, schools, public and private business premises including filling stations are to remain shut till further notice.
“All those who mean well for this country are to see to the success of this action. Further more, this action is to remain in force until further directives are given”.
Throwing more light on the reason for the strike, Wabba said “the national Minimum Wage Committee was inaugurated in November 2017 but commenced work in March 2018 with timelines to deliver on its mandate of arriving at a new national minimum wage in August/ September 2018.
“The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige in February this year during the 40th anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Labour Congress, assured workers that they would have a new minimum wage.
“In order to meet this deadline, the Committee, in spite of challenges, worked assiduously and meticulously. In the course of the work of the Committee, members had ample time to consult and to take memoranda from across the country and across the sectors.
“The Committee was satisfied that it received memoranda and inputs from 21 state governments, specialised agencies of the federal government, the Organised Private Sector, Organised Labour and the general public.
“This was reason why the Organised Labour was outraged and shell-shocked by the decision of Government to adjourn the meeting of the Committee indefinitely to enable consultations by the Federal Government team.
“Organized Labour considered the conduct of the Government as an act of bad faith and an insult to its members, who out of uncommon sacrifice and patriotism had hearkened to government’s appeal to delay negotiation for a new national minimum wage by two years”.
The NLC president noted that the justification for the new national minimum wage cannot be over argued as it was not about salary earning Nigerians only but rather economy inflation.
“We do believe that the reasons why governors find it difficult to pay the national minimum wage are lack of political will, high level of corruption, excessive cause of governance, white elephants projects and among others.
“In any case, we are commending the governors that have indicated their readiness to pay the new national minimum wage and we advise those who are not prepared to pay to go back to their state and tell the workers in their state that they would not pay.
“We therefore, find it necessary to caution against any attempt by government at any level to blackmail workers or their and their unions because we have been patient, considerate and patriotic.
“Indeed government had to commend workers and their union for waiting patiently for two years before commencing negotiations for a new National Minimum wage. We advise that our disposition should not be taken for granted,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Deputy President of the United LabourCongress (ULC), Comrade Igwe Achese said Organised Labour were open to dialogue as a way of resolving the dispute, pointing out that even when the government reached an agreement with the unions, the various organs will still have to meet to suspend or call off the strike.
As at the time of this report, a meeting between the federal government team led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and leaders of Organised Labour were locked in a meeting at the Ministry of Labour.
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