THE organised labour is spoiling for war with the Federal Government over the controversies surrounding the new National Minimum Wage and the decision of the government to adopt a “no work, no pay” posture to force workers from going on strike.
Labour leaders are of the opinion that the Federal Government was deliberately sabotaging the plan to arrive at a new national minimum wage and making so much effort to stop workers from protesting non-payment of salaries.
In a highly worded statement, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Comrade Ayuba Wabba, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) President Comrade Bala Kaigama and United Labour Congress (ULC) President Comrade Joe Ajaero said a joint Central Working Committee meeting of the three labour centres will hold on Friday November 2nd to decide on the way forward.
They believe that the Federal Government was trying to provoke workers into taking unpleasant action, stressing that the process of arriving at the new national minimum wage has been filled with betrayals, half-truth and sabotage.
They asked the leadership of the organised private sector to rise up and speak the truth about the decision that was arrived at during the last meeting of the tripartite committee, which Minister of Labour Senator Chris Ngige has consistently denied.
The labour leaders declared October 30, 2018, as a day of national outrage and mourning across the country to sensitise Nigerians on the plight of workers and the issues at stake.
They argued that if the government is trying to criminalise strike by imposing a “no work, no pay” condition, they should also criminalise the act of non-payment of salaries by both government and other employers of labour.
They asked the President to put in motion machinery to turn the agreement on minimum wage into a bill to be presented to the National Assembly.
The labour leaders also urged the President to work with the legislators to make it a law so that it could be implemented quickly.
The statement said: “The path to a new national minimum wage has been expectedly littered with betrayal, resistance, half-truths and now almost outright sabotage.
“That is why it has become urgent that Nigerians are informed of the insistence of the Federal Government to deliberately create confusion and make the negotiations for a new national minimum wage inconclusive as usual.”
They added: “It is not true that we proposed N30,000 as the new national minimum wage. It is also not true that the committee did not agree on a figure during its last sitting. We accepted N30,000 as a compromise to demonstrate the willingness of Nigerian workers to make sacrifices towards nation building.
“Anything to the contrary no matter the quantum and character of the din or how well couched, it may appear cannot be true. Resorting to Goebbelsianism at this time of national emergency, which requires men and women of integrity, is rather unfortunate and cannot suddenly make the brazen falsehoods truths.”
The labour leaders said it has become necessary for the organised private sector to break its silence on the issue and speak out, noting that keeping silent on the issue would not be of any help to the parties involved.
The labour leader said: “As Nigerian workers are concerned and as represented by us, we shall no longer negotiate on a figure for the new minimum wage having reached an agreement on this during the last sitting of the tripartite committee. We cannot continue discussing a figure that has already been agreed procedurally within the committee.”
The statement said: “On Friday, November 2, 2018, a Joint Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting of all the labour centres in Nigeria shall hold to receive reports and make final preparations for our ultimate engagement with the Federal Government on this matter.
“This is the first time in the history of this nation in recent times that such meeting will take place and this goes a long way to show the seriousness with which Nigerian workers and its leadership hold this matter.
“If nothing is responsibly done by the Federal Government to meet our demands, on Monday, November 6, we shall embark on a nationwide strike to compel this government to show more sensitivity to the plight of Nigerians and the suffering that is decimating our people on daily basis.”