• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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We will not accept starvation wages — Labour

FG in emergency meeting with labour leaders

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday, warned that it will not accept a minimum wage figure that approximates to a starvation wage.

Adewale Adeyanju, acting President of the NLC, stated this in a statement, in reaction to President Bola Tinubu’s Democracy Day nationwide broadcast, on Wednesday.
The NLC position is coming on the heels of the President’s assurance that he will be sending an executive bill on the Minimum Wage, to the National Assembly for passage into law, soon.

The NLC reiterated that “ it will be extremely difficult for Nigerian workers to accept any national minimum wage figure that approximates to a starvation Wage”.

The President in his broadcast had declared that “ As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you.

He added that “ In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

“ In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict”.

Read also: Governors’ comment on N60,000 minimum wage offensive, insensitive – Nigerians

The organised labour however disagreed with the President on his claims that “No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution”
We appreciate the President’s commitment to those fine democratic ideals which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage

The President also stated in his broadcast that “ Negotiation Committee proceeded unhindered despite some hiccups”

The labour leader said the “President’s advisers obviously did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed”
“It is therefore important that Mr. President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent.

We were intimidated by government officials, say labour unions

He also alleged that “series of media Propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government.

“Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the Government and despite denials, recent statements by senior officials of the Government reaffirmed our fears contrary to the assurances by the Government. However, we remain assured that the President’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses.
He also noted that it is “important that Mr. President should know that most of his officers are working round the clock to set up the leadership of congress and the trade unions”

Adeyanju said the labour Union had expected President to used his understanding as one of those who was in the vanguard of the struggle to rescue Nigeria from the hands of the military to harmonize the two figures submitted to him by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and masses.
“It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift”
“The NLC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the federal government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components.

He reiterated that the organised labour’s demand still remains N250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand Naira) only, aid groups that “ we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process.
“ We are therefore surprised at the submission of Mr. President over a supposed agreement. We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC.

“ There was none and it is important that we let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage.

“We have also not seen a copy of the document submitted to him and will not accept any doctored document.

Labour however reaffirmed their belief that the President on whose table the Tripartite Committee’s report presently resides would prepare an Executive Bill which content will reflect the true demand of Nigerian workers.

“We think that this is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and masses by shunning the pieces of advise that may be coming from those whose intentions are continuously focused on hurting the poor and struggling workers of Nigeria. Mr. President should not allow these individuals and groups to sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty.
Adeyanju who also revealed that Labour did not agree on a 5-year duration of the minimum wage Act, added that “though we acknowledge that the President mentioned 5 years or less.
“We also agreed that inflation should be pegged at a level for certain amount to be agreed as minimum wage. This is to bring clarity to what the report should contain.
“We cannot be working and yet remain in abject poverty. We seek justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians and this we hope would also drive the actions of Mr. President who promised a Living Wage to Nigerian workers.

“This is an opportunity to show that he listens to Nigerians as he promised!
“Together, we can build a stronger democratic nation based on equity which guarantees prosperity to the majority of the citizenry and not one where few individuals monopolize our collective resources. That is the only way to build a sustainable democracy. It is the true democracy that we all yearn for as a people!” , he said.