“The threat to sack workers is not new in the struggle for review of the national minimum wage in Nigeria… the current one by the Governor… cannot be used to intimidate labour.”

James Ojo, Abuja Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has vowed not to bow to the threat by governors to sack workers over the proposed N30,000 minimum wage.

Reacting to the latest position of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) that states would either go bankrupt or sack workers if forced to pay N30,000 minimum wage, President of the NLC Ayuba Wabba yesterday said in a statement that workers could not be intimidated.

“The threat to sack workers is not new in the struggle for review of the national minimum wage in Nigeria. Therefore, the current one by the Governor of Zamfara State cannot be used to intimidate labour.”

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Wabba, who dismissed the sack threat as an old trick, cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari to be wary of those who wanted to present him as an anti workers leader.

NLC leader warned that the consequences of workers retrenchment were too grievous for any political office holder truly elected by the people to contemplate and declared that “since a few political office holders are bent on enslaving Nigerian workers with peanuts mislabeled as salaries, we urge such elected public officials to subject their humongous salaries and allowances, reputed to be among the highest in the world, pro rata with the minimum wage they want to force down the throats of Nigerian workers.

“We, therefore, urge each state governor to go to their respective states and inform workers and their families their individual position on the new national minimum wage of N30,000.”

He said the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to present a bill to the National Assembly is already affecting the popularity of his government.

Wabba, therefore, called on him to be wary of some people, especially in the NGF, who for selfish and personal reasons, were working to present him as an anti-worker president and by extension orchestrate anti-Buhari sentiments in the populace.

He enjoined President Buhari to shame such people and speedily present to the National Assembly the bill on the National Minimum Wage for appropriate amendment and implementation.

He described the proposed N30,000 as a product of intense and robust negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee that lasted for one year between November 2017 to November 2018.

In the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee, state governments were represented by six states (one state from each of the six geopolitical zones) while a letter was sent to every state to send in their memorandum as their input to the national minimum wage negotiations.

“It is on record that 21 states responded by sending memoranda with figures, after which public hearings were conducted in each of the geopolitical zones in the country. The state governments were all represented at the zonal hearings and made their input to discussions towards a new national minimum wage.

“The demand of organised labour was N66,500. From the memoranda submitted to the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee by state governments, there were proposals by some states to even pay higher than the negotiated national minimum wage of N30,000.

“After extended and extensive negotiations by the Tripartite Committee, a final compromise figure of N30,000 was agreed by all the partners – government, organized labour and employers in the private sector.

“This agreement took on board prevailing economic indices and factors especially as outlined in Convention 131 and Recommendation 95 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention on Criteria and Procedure for Collective Bargaining especially towards arriving at a National Minimum Wage for any country.

“It was on the basis of this agreement that the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee concluded its work and submitted its report to Mr. President on the 6th of November, 2018. This ended the process of negotiations for a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

“Therefore, the statement of Mr. Abdulaziz Yari purportedly for the Nigeria Governors Forum, one year after the inauguration of the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee, is certainly an afterthought and has no place in the collective bargaining process.

“We understand that Mr. Yari Abdulaziz’s position is at the instance of a few anti-worker governors. We are not in any doubt that many worker-friendly governors are ready to pay even higher than the negotiated N30,000 new national minimum wage.”

NLC boss warned Yari to desist from using the platform of the NGF to seek political relevance.

“His tactics of blackmail against workers is already time worn and the stench is already offensive,” he said.

He urged workers to vote out any politician or political party that refuses to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000 in the forthcoming 2019 election.

Meanwhile, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, Mr. Seyi Makinde, has described as ungodly the threat to reduce the workforce in the civil service across the 36 states of the federation before it could implement the N30,000 minimum wage in their respective states.

In a statement by Prince Dotun Oyelade, Director of Communication and Strategies, Seyi Makinde Campaign Organisation, Makinde noted that “while it is true that Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has been consistent in his threat to reduce the workforce and had made good on this in the past, what the Governors’ Forum should have prioritised are improved dialogue with the workers, employ more creative ways to increase internally generated revenues and intensify efforts on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to review the National Revenue Formula in favour of the states.

“With good husbanding of Oyo State resources, the blocking of all financial loopholes, improved Internally generated revenue initiatives and freedom from the shackles of huge loan servicing, Oyo State can live comfortably within its means.”

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