Organised Labour yesterday met in Lagos to finalise activities for the impending indefinite nationwide strike expected to commence tomorrow (Wednesday) in protest against the Federal Government’s inability to conclude negotiation on the new national minimum wage this month.
The three labour centres, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC), have subsequently instructed their members to commence mobilisation for the eventual shut down of the nation tomorrow.
Besides, the NLC which held its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting last week to ratify the strike, the ULC and TUC earlier yesterday got the nod of their respective Central Working Committees (CWCs) to go ahead with the strike in case the government fails on the ultimatum.
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Nigeria’s organised labour had on September 12 issued a 14-day ultimatum to the government to recall the Minimum Wage Committee saddled with the responsibility to fix a new wage for Nigerian workers to conclude negotiation on the matter or else face industrial action.
The ULC while addressing the media after its CWC, restated its commitment to the N65,000 demanded by labour unions and warned the government to take positive step on the new minimum wage before the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum on Wednesday or be ready to face the wrath of Nigerian workers.
ULC President, Joe Ajaero, lamented that with two days left to the end of the ultimatum, government has not shown any commitment, but was rather still dragging its feet on the issue.
He said the announcement by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, that government has convened a committee was belated and an insult to workers, as this was done after the labour ultimatum.
He, however, noted that the body language of all the government arms did not show sincerity to the negotiation, as the National Assembly which was supposed to ratify the negotiation is equally on recess.
He said, “the Vice President said the presidential committee would come up with a figure but this would not be accepted by Labour. The government’s committee is also talking about non-availability of funds but the Customs, Immigration, FIRS all have overshot their revenue targets. The Paris Fund, the Abacha loots, what about other funds recovered so far? Nigerian workers know we have enough money to pay the new minimum wage.”
He said it is only a shortage of patriotism, will and a surplus of official greed and corruption that is the bane of a reasonable national minimum wage and not shortage of necessary resources to pay.
Ajaero said the organised private sector’s (OPS)’s withdrawal of its initial offer of N41,000, which it later reduced to N25,000 is an embarrassment to workers and is trying to test the powers of labour, which is bad.
“It has never happened in the history of negotiation that employers will reduce after making an offer. It shows that they, like government, are not ready for the negotiation,” he said.
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Ajaero said government has shown by its actions a remarkable lack of seriousness, which has characterised governance in Nigeria, noting that since February till now, government is yet to come to the negotiation table with a figure for the new minimum wage.
“We shall no longer be obliged to give any further notice to the government before embarking on the needed action to resist the deliberate and unconscionable desolation of our people and nation and we order all our affiliates and state councils to move to the final level of alert in their preparation for the proposed nationwide strike.”