New Minimum Wage: Workers begin nationwide strike

*Stay at home, NLC tells members

*Negotiation resumes Oct 4, says Ngige

After a briefing by the Federal Government on Wednesday, the leadership of the organised labour has declared there was no going back on today’s nationwide strike to press for a new minimum wage for its members.
Labour therefore directed all workers to sit at home until further notice.
The workers’ leadership said “there are clear signs that the government is not ready for a new national minimum wage,” adding that: “it has only been taking workers for a ride; it has only been taking advantage of workers’ misplaced abiding faith or trust.
“Given this circumstance, this warning strike is absolutely necessary. It is a precursor to the main strike which will be the mother of all strikes! ”
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, told journalists in Abuja at a joint press briefing by the leadership of all labour unions in the country, that, “all workers in the public and private sectors at all levels across the country have been directed to comply.
“Industrial unions, state councils, all worker organisations and our civil society allies have been directed to step up mobilisation of their members.
“All public and private institutions, offices, banks, schools, public and private business premises including filling stations are to remain shut till further notice.
“All those who mean well for this country are to see to the success of this action. Furthermore, this action is to remain in force until further directives are given”.
Wabba continued: “Members of organised labour would want to formally inform all employers of labour and Nigerians that beginning from midnight, Wednesday, September 26, 2018, workers from all sectors of the economy and our civil society allies will begin a nationwide warning strike over the refusal of the Federal Government to reconvene the meeting of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee.

“Although the issues have been very much in the public domain, for the purpose of this strike, we find it necessary to offer this further explanation.
“The National Minimum Wage Committee was inaugurated in November 2017 but commenced work in March 2018 with timelines to deliver on its mandate of arriving at a new national minimum wage in August/ September 2018.
“The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige himself in February this year during the 40th anniversary celebration of the NLC, assured workers that they would have a new minimum wage in September.
“In order to meet this deadline, the committee, in spite of challenges, worked assiduously and meticulously. In the course of the work of the committee, members had ample time to consult and to take memoranda from across the country and across the sectors.
“The committee was satisfied that it received memoranda and inputs from 21 state governments, specialised agencies of the Federal Government, the Organised Private Sector, Organised Labour and the general public.
“This was reason why the organised labour was outraged and shell-shocked by the decision of government to adjourn the meeting of the committee indefinitely to enable consultations by the Federal Government team. The decision was against the principle of collective bargaining.
“Organised Labour considered the conduct of the government as an act of bad faith and an insult to its members, who out of uncommon sacrifice and patriotism had hearkened to government’s appeal to delay negotiation for a new national minimum wage by two years”.
He added: “The justification for a new national minimum wage cannot be over argued and it is not about salary-earning Nigerians only.
“May we remind all Nigerians that before this government increased the pump price of petroleum products by over 80% and devalued the Naira by over a 100%, commodity prices were considerably cheaper, tariffs were more friendly, rents and transportation charges were bearable, while wages of workers have remained static.
“Today, these things have all changed! The economic decisions of this Government led to fundamental consequential effects on workers and citizenry including unbearable electricity tariffs, punitive exchange rate, and hyper-inflation, all of which led to a rising cost of living for workers and other Nigerians, and bad business for business people.
“Government in appreciation of these hardships, set up the Palliatives Committee to fashion out mitigating strategy, policies, and programmes to cushion the vagaries of its policies, but to date, we are not aware that any of the recommendations of the Committee has been implemented.
“Once again, we call on all workers in the public, private and in the informal sector to please stay at home till further notice”.
*Negotiation resumes Oct 4, says Ngige
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said that the Tripartite Committee on the New National Minimum Wage will reconvene on October 4, to conclude the negotiation process.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, told newsmen after a closed-door meeting with the leadership of organised labour on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ngige said that the incumbent administration is labour- friendly and “this, we have shown in many ways and we will continue to show it.

“One of the ways that we going to show it is by implementing the new national minimum wage and this we need to fix a base for the lowest paid worker in Nigeria.
“We are resuming next week, precisely on Thursday, October 4 and the meeting may spill over to October 5, as we normally use two days for the meeting”.
Ngige added that the 14-day ultimatum issued to the government did not get to him, “otherwise we would have addressed it scientifically the way it should be done”.

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