The organised labour – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) – is set to embark on a nationwide strike over the move by the National Assembly to remove the issue of National Minimum Wage from the Exclusive Legislative List, describing the move as a ploy to allow some state governors to pay slave wages to the poor and hapless workers.
Already, as a prelude to a nationwide strike over the issue and other issues of concerns to the workers, Labour has declared a national protest action to commence next week Wednesday, 10 March, in Abuja and the 36 states of the federation.
The protest action is target at the National Assembly, Abuja and the 36 states house of assembly; and the NLC said its members in conjunction with the TUC, have all been mobilised and directed to stormed the National Assembly and all state houses of assembly in their respective states.
These were parts of the decision taken after the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the NLC, held on Tuesday at the Labour House, Abuja. The emergency NEC meeting considered issues affecting workers and their families, which include: the attempt to remove the National Minimum Wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List; the ploy to establish State Judicial Council; and the current hoarding and scarcity of the petroleum.
Addressing a press conference after the NEC meeting, President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said: “After careful consideration of the issues before it especially in light of their implications to the working-class family and the masses of our people in Nigeria, the National Executive Council resolved as follows:
“The NEC decided that there will be a national protest action commencing from March 10, 2021, in the Federal Capital Territory and especially to the National Assembly. The protest is to make a strong statement that Nigerian workers would not lie low and watch hard-fought rights which are of global standards bastardized by opportunistic and narrow thinking politicians;
“The NEC resolved that the national protest action will be concurrently held in all the 36 states of the federation and to the different State Houses of Assembly across Nigeria;
“The NEC decided that should the need arise; it has empowered the National Administrative Council of the NLC to declare and enforce a national strike action especially if the legislators continue on the ruinous path of moving the National Minimum Wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.”
Comrade Wabba added: “The NEC condemned and rejected in its entirety the ploy to decentralize Nigeria’s judiciary through the establishment of State Judicial Councils describing the move as unpatriotic, self-serving and an attempt to throw Nigeria into judicial and social chaos;
“On the current hoarding of petrol and the attendant scarcity, the NEC called on relevant regulatory agencies of government to rise up to the protection of the interests of the majority of Nigerians from the exploitative hands of market forces who are bent on making maximal profits from the sufferings of fellow citizens;
“The NEC warned that should the current artificial scarcity persist that the various leadership structures of the NLC should picket petrol stations found to be inflicting pains on Nigerians;
“The NEC resolved that all the resolutions and decisions adopted at the emergency meeting should be pursued in collaboration with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the overall interest of all Nigerian workers.”
Congress regretted that the bill on the National Minimum Wage, which was sponsored by Garba Datti Mohammed of Sabon Gari Federal Constituency, Kaduna State had passed the first and second reading in the House of Representatives.
The NLC President said: “The NEC considered that the bill is a classic case of the hand of ‘Esau and the Voice of Jacob’ as it has all the imprimatur of anti-workers forces in the political establishment. The NEC considered Hon Garba Datti as only a hireling in the plot by his sponsors to disorient, injure, and exterminate Nigeria’s working class.
“The NEC described the current battle to remove the National Minimum Wage from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent Legislative List as an attempt to negate the struggle and fight by Nigerian workers to get the National Minimum Wage passed as an Act of Parliament forty years ago.
“The NEC reminded the political class that the National Minimum Wage is a global standard adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) through Convention 26 which was ratified by Nigeria on June 16, 1961. The ratification of this very important Convention by Nigeria was given statutory effect by the signing into law of the National Minimum Wage Act by the President Shehu Shagari government in May 1981.”
He added: “The NEC reasoned that the National Minimum Wage is an offshoot of a global convention ratified by Nigeria and that Nigeria as a Sovereign gave effect to the National Minimum Wage by putting it in the Exclusive Legislative List.
“The NEC warned that any attempt to move the National Minimum Wage from Exclusive Legislative List to Concurrent Legislative List will make Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations.”
Wabba warned President Muhammadu Buhari against some political class who are working to further destabilize his government.
He said: “In the light of the foregoing, the NEC called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow fifth columnists masquerading as politicians to derail his government by railroading the legislature into removing the national minimum wage from the exclusive to the concurrent list – a move that the global workers’ solidarity regards as anathema.”
He explained further that the National Minimum Wage is just a benchmark and a minimum by any employer of Labour, either in government or private sector to pay, adding that this is the standard in more than 90 countries across the world.
Giving the Nigerian governors the opportunity to determine minimum wage, many of them would pay slave wages.
He questioned the rationale behind the move, even when all political office holder from a councillor in local government who might hold a Primary School Leaving certificate to the members of National Assembly and retinue of aides are collecting the same humongous salary across the federation.
Credit: Nigerian Tribune