Organised Labour yesterday warned that Nigeria workers would in 2019 general elections vote against any government that refused to pay the new minimum wage currently being negotiated in the country.
This came as the National Assembly said it would expeditiously pass the minimum wage into law as soon as it was sent to the National Assembly, saying the welfare of workers remained one of its priorities.
President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who gave the warning while addressing workers and other guests including government officials led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo , at the Eagle Square,Abuja, Venue of the 2018, National May Day celebrations, also raised alarm that the heightened insecurity in country was drifting to Nigeria to the precipice.
Wabba who equally warned against any attempt to renegotiate the minimum wage once it was agreed on, said: "The recent nation-wide minimum wage public hearings have unmasked the enemies of Nigerian workers. We insist that once the Minimum Wage Act is signed into law, all employers in public and private sectors must pay at once. We shall stand with those willing to pay more than the minimum. We shall resist any move to renegotiate the minimum wage at any level.
"The Federal Government must ensure that federal allocations are not released to states and local governments that refuse to implement the new minimum wage. We are battle ready against public and private organizations that would refuse to conform to the new minimum wage. At our disposal is the power of our votes! We shall ensure that governments that refuse to pay the new minimum wage will not receive the support of the working class, pensioners and their families."
The NLC president who also raised concerns over rising unemployment, poverty, inflation and general state of the economy, called on the government to immediately address the frightening insecurity across the country, saying "With the military deployed in twenty-seven of our states, it is very clear that the country is drifting to a precipice."
Speaking, President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Vice president Yemi Osinbajo, said government was genuinely committed to upward review of the workers' wages, especially in the face of the current economic realities.
The argument for a national minimum wage, according to Osinbajo, "cannot be faulted because minimum wage is the minimum amount of compensation an employee must receive for putting in his or her labour and as such should be anchored on the principles of social justice, equity, and fairness."
He said those who could pay above the social protection floor were free to do so, as many had been doing in many states and sectors of the economy, saying :"This administration has no intention of presiding over the dismantling of the gains organized labour secured for its members almost four decades ago. It is my hope, therefore, that the Tripartite Committee comprising government, labour, and the private sector will expedite its assignment to enable the Federal Government to present an Executive Bill on a new National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly for passage into law, as soon as possible. In the meantime, the Federal Government and the state governments will continue to work together to improve the conditions of workers across the country."
He acknowledged the historical contributions of Nigerian workers and organized labour to the political, economic, social and cultural development of Nigerian, declaring that "from the struggles for independence; right through to the clamour for the restoration of the democratic order, and, in the last 19 years, for the sustenance of the freedoms guaranteed by our democracy. I must also say that Nigerian organized labour has contributed actively towards helping Nigeria get out, in record time, of an economic recession arising from past economic mismanagement."
Saraki pledges support
In his goodwill message, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki while pledging his support for workers on the issue of the minimum wage, the Senate President, who was represent by Senator Victor Umeh, said: "Workers form the bedrock on which the building blocks of any sustained national development can be laid. Priority must be given to demand for a new minimum wage.
"There can be no economic growth without the contribution of workers and there can be no national development without economic development. Our workers play crucial roles in all we attain as a nation and that fact need to be recognized always. I salute all Nigerian workers for their sacrifice and resilience in the face of dwindling economic fortunes."
House ready to pass minimum wage bill - Dogara
In his fraternal message, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, reiterated the desire of the House to provide a better life for workers, noting that the legislature was still waiting for executive to forward the bill for an upward review of minimum wage to the National Assembly for passage.
In a statement to mark the 2018 Workers' day celebration, Hon Dogara said "We see the struggles you go through to survive on wages that can barely last through the first week of the month. We see your dedication to doing your bit in ensuring that Nigeria continues to run effectively in spite of unfavourable conditions. We commend your courage, your commitment to service and nation building and urge you to continue supporting government policies and agenda.
'I assure you, on this occasion, that the National Assembly will give expeditious passage to the Minimum Wage Bill whenever it is transmitted by the executive and any other initiative that will promote the welfare of the Nigerian worker. We will support it wholeheartedly."
Ekweremadu Backs Workers on New Minimum Wage
Similarly, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, while throwing his weight behind the call for a new minimum wage, in his goodwill message, said: "I salute the Nigerian workers for their immense sacrifice, labour, resilience, and patriotism, which have kept Nigeria going. They have also not relented even in the face of untold challenges and hardship", adding "It is becoming more difficult for workers to survive on N18,000 minimum wage. It is absolutely less than a living wage. The take-home pay has left most workers stranded.
Nigeria now a slaughter slab
In Lagos where members held separate May Day Rally, President of United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, Comrade Joe Ajaero said, besides the issue of the minimum wage which must be realized and implemented, the level of insecurity in the country must be addressed
According to him: "As we speak, our nation has become a slaughter slab. Lives of Nigerians; men and women, children and the aged have come under the murderous reach of Fulani herdsmen. On daily basis, hundreds of lives are violently snuffed out. Just last week, two reverend gentlemen had their lives taken from them violently while in their place of worship. People are killed in their homes and in their farms. Much more, the Police and the Army that went to restore sanity are losing their lives on daily basis. Yet and we say yet, the federal government uncannily seem incapable of discharging its constitutional responsibilities of protecting the lives and properties of the citizenry. We do not understand what informs this incapacity and we do not understand the cacophony of voices coming out of the nation's security agencies. We cannot explain the seeming lack of concern that has so far been shown by our political leaders. It is as if these lives do not matter. We are indeed horrified.
"With these heightened level of insecurity farmers will be unable to work on the land and this may translate into serious food shortage making a bad situation worse for our economy and unleashing a negative spiral on the socio-polity. If nothing is done, we are afraid that this may conflagrate and consume our nation. Events that are beginning to happen in response to the killings are pointers to a nation seriously in the grip of insecurity as people begin to heed the increasing admonitions to defend themselves. We urge the President to rise and defend the people because it will be dangerous to leave it in the hands of the people."
May Day in states
In Ondo State, civil servants protested against Governor Rotimi Akeredolu's alleged refusal to pay their 2017 leave allowances.
The protest took place at this year's Workers Day celebration held at Arcade Ground in Akure, the state capital.
We are hungry, Ekiti workers tell Fayose
For workers in Ekiti State, Chairman of the NLC Comrade Raymond Adesanmi, said the workers in the state were very hungry and called on the governor to pay outstanding salaries owed the workers which include five months for the civil servants, eight months for the local government workers and six months for higher institution in the state.
Labour asks Amosun to pay 48 months allowance
Similarly, in Ogun State, chairmen of the TUC and NLC, Messrs. Olubunmi Fajobi and Akeem Ambali, urged Governor Ibikunle Amosun to pay up their 48 months leave allowances and 18 months global deductions adding that the leave allowances covered the period of four consecutive years (2015 partially, 2016, 2017 and 2018).
Osun workers commend Aregbesola for not sacking workers
In Osun State, NLC chairman in the state, Mr. Jacob Adekomi appreciated the governor for not laying off workers, during the financial turbulence period of the state and also acceding to some of the workers demands.
Labour faults casual employment in Lagos
In Lagos, organised labour through the TUC chairman, Mr. Francis Ogunremi said: "It is an aberration to continue to employ workers on contract basis in capacities that are needed on long term basis. How can the government check the excesses of private employers in this regard if the state is at the vanguard of such practices. We really need to take a closer look at the Local Governments and private employers in the state."
Oyo workers demand for N196, 000 minimum wage
The United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, in Oyo State, yesterday, insisted reiterated its call for N96,000 minimum wage in view of the trending global economic realities.
ULC in the speech sent by its President Joe Ajaero, at the workers' day celebration, read by the state secretary, Comrade Adejoke Oyeleke on behalf of their state acting Chairman, Comrade Leye Olayemi, also advised the government to ensure that the fight against corruption should be redefined, deepened, transparent and accountable for the quantum of total fund recovered so far.
Adamawa workers demand unpaid allowances
Addressing members, State chairman of NLC in Adamawa, Comrade Dauda Maina, called on the state government to pay workers some of their allowances, especially leave grants, gratuity and pension which has stockpiled over the years.