Organised Labour gave indications on Tuesday that the outcome of the ongoing controversies about the new national minimum wage will largely impact on the 2019 general election, saying the N30,000 they are currently insisting on was a compromised figure as the Minister of Labour actually recommended a higher figure.
Leaders of Organised Labour said on a day of national mourning to protest the new position of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige that the committee has not agreed on a particular figure that the sub committee headed by the Minister recommended four different figures and scenarios which was deliberated upon by the entire committee before arriving at N30,000.
According to a document circulated by the Leadership of Organised Labour entitled “struggle for national minimum wage by Organised Labour in Nigeria” the committee headed by the Minister recommended a minimum of N35,000 under what they described as scenario four.
Other recommendations according to the document include “scenario one, yielding an average of N38,508.18, median of N42,032 and mode of N36,000. Scenario two yielding an average of N36,522.18, median of N45,000 and mode of N50,000. Scenario three yielded an average of N37,000 and scenario four yielded an average of N35,000”.
The document said further that “clearly from the figures above, the N30,000 was proposed not by Organised Labour, but was compromised figure and accepted in the spirit of give and take, eve; though Labour was not particularly pleased with it”.
Contrary to claims by the Minister that the governors are offering to N19,000, organised Labour said the least figures offered by any state government was N20,000 offers by Taraba state government, followed by Ondo State government with N22,000, while Jigawa offered N32,000.
According to them, Kano state with biggest workforce and wage bill had offered to pay the N30,600, Adamawa (N23,000), Plateau and Bauchi (25,000), Abia (N42,000), Gombe (N28,000), Nasarawa (N24,750), Borno (N27,000).
Other states that submitted memorandum to the committee like Akwa Ibom, Imo, Ekiti Kogi, Katsina, Oyo were not specific as they were said to be consulting, while Enugu offered to pay whatever was agreed upon and Lagos offering to pay whatever was agreed upon by southern State Governors Forum, with only Delta state insisting they can not accommodate any increase for now.
According to them, National day of mourning declared by Organised Labour is aimed at sensitizing Nigerians on the plight of workers and to protest attempt by government to muzzle workers and practically turn them to slaves.
The workers insisted that a new National minimum wage was a right of workers and not a favour, stressing that it was a crime to deny workers their right, saying “when it comes to salaries of political office holders, there are always enough resources, but when it comes to salaries of workers, the story changes.
“We live in one country, but operate separate laws for workers and political office holders. The will to pay should supersede the ability to pay. So Governors should stop grandstanding in Abuja and to back and face their workers“
Addressing the workers, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama said workers should be prepared to use their PVC to vote out those they described as “enemies of workers”
Wabba said “We cannot be creating wealth while we live in abject poverty or create wealth while the resources which is diverted. The used us to collect bail out and they didnt pay. the issue is not because there is no resources, but because they want more resources. In one state, the moment he received the money, he went and bought ten bullet proof cars.
“In one state, New billion was used to charter flight alone. The problem is not about us, but about them. So, they must find the means to pay us. What have we done to the political elites that they cannot pay us N30 000. Don’t we deserve more than that? Instead of attending to that issue by respecting international conventions, they are coming up with no work, no pay and we are saying no pay, no work, no minimum wage, no work.
“Every Nigeria worker must be ready because this is a battle with a difference.
When they increased the price of fuel, they put the issue of minimum wage on the table. We will not allow a situation where they increase their own and ignore us.
“During the last increase, salaries political office holders was increased by 900 percent, while giving us pittance. In say to all of us, no retreat, no surrender because on justice and fairness we stand. On minimum wage we stand.
“This is just the beginning, to sensitise Nigerians about the injustice that is being done to Nigerian workers. Workers work to earn a living and not giving charity and we must earn a decent living. The fight start today and we are going to win because a people determined cannot be defeated.”
On his part, President of Trade Union Congress, (TUC) Bala Bobboi Kaigama said if the government is saying that N30,000 was too much to pay, “they should give us an equivalent of N18000 as at 2011 relative to the dollar when the dollar was 150. Today, 18000 is less than 50 dollar and we are not responsible for the inflation in the country.
“We are re saying let us exhibit good governance and fight corruption. It Is time to show the political elites that enough is enough. It is either they give us our demand or or we rally throughout the country.
“We must show the, that Nigerians workers have the weapon which is our pvc and we will use it to declare war against our political leaders a day defeat our enemies. We are starting our mobilisation today and in the next few months, we will be prepare to use our PVC.
“If they think that one worker who can mobilise ten persons means nothing we will show them that there is no going back. It is either you give us N30000 or nothing because negotiations have ended. Our struggle start today and will be in till February 2019. Let us not succumb to the threat of no work, no pay”
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