Labour vows to resist pay reduction

labourLABOUR leaders have vowed to resist alleged plans by state governors to reverse the N18,000 minimum wage.

In separate statements issued at the weekend, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) described as unacceptable reported inability of some states to sustain the payment of the N18,000 minimum wage.

In a statement issued by NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, the union described the reported plan to reverse the minimum wage as a “declaration of war against Nigerian workers”.

Wabba said: “The Nigeria Labour Congress is shocked by the comment of the chairman of the Governors Forum, Governor Abdulaziz Yari, that the N18,000 National Minimum Wage promulgated into law in 2011 is no longer sustainable because of the fall in the price of crude oil.
“The governor who was speaking on behalf of his colleagues at the end of a meeting of the Forum also claimed that the National Minimum Wage was ‘imposed’.

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that this attempt to reverse the National Minimum Wage is a declaration of war against the working people of this country, and we would have no alternative than to mobilize to respond to this act of aggression by the political class on our welfare.”

In a separate statement issued by TUC President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama, and Secretary General, Musa Lawal, the congress vowed to resist any plan to either reduce the minimum wage or reduce staff strength in any state across the country. “We are vehemently against the move and would stop at nothing to ensure it does not see the light of the day.”

The congress said its organs would meet “very shortly to prepare for the war declared by the Governors’ Forum against labour and the toiling masses of the country.”

In the statement titled: “N18,000 minimum wage: Default and incur our wrath”, TUC described as laughable the recent report in the national dailies that the governors, in their meeting in Abuja, said they could no longer pay N18, 000 national minimum wages “because it was imposed on them when oil sold for $126 as against the present price of $41 per barrel.

“But for the wide reportage of the new position of the governors and the fact that none of them has come up to refute it, TUC would have said it is one of those rumours. What baffles any Nigerian is that the governors claim that the minimum wage was ‘imposed’. We are all living witnesses to the processes the last minimum wage negotiation took. There was a tripartite meeting, involving government at all levels, employers (through Nigeria’s Employers’ Consultative Association NECA) and the organized labour.

“One will say that the negotiation that took place fulfilled International Labour Organisation (ILO) standard of tripartite after which the National Assembly enacted the new Minimum Wage Bill into law.

“And now, our leaders, the governors, short of suffering from total amnesia, are talking of imposition. We are not only disappointed, but we fear for our future as responsible citizens of this country because we are daily confronted with policy summersaults as development strategies.

“To start with, we had thought that the very essence of setting up the Governors’ Forum is for them to meet once in a while to discuss vital issues on how to move the country forward, little did we know that we are absolutely wrong. For issues like reduction of national minimum wage and sack of workers to be discussed at what is supposed to be a high profile meeting sends a wrong signal. We are disappointed that governors who preached love, peace and progress for all a few months ago are singing in a different tune.”

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