Ahead of a nationwide strike over the Federal Government's refusal to send a draft bill on N30,000 National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly to legislate into law, organised labour and its civil society allies are, today, holding a nationwide mobilisation and mass protest to force government into action.
Though a definite day for the commencement of the nationwide strike is yet to be announced, labour had on December 20, 2018, while issuing a December 31, 2018, deadline to the government over the issue, declared: "Organised Labour will not guarantee industrial peace and harmony if after December 31, 2018, the draft bill is not transmitted to the National Assembly.
"This serves as a statutory notice for Organised Labour to recall our suspended nationwide industrial action."
Reinforcing the threat that a nationwide strike could start at anytime without further notice, President of United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, Joe Ajaero, said though no date had been fixed for commencement of the strike, it could start the next day after the national protest.
He said: "It can start today, it can start at anytime. We agreed during our meeting (of leaders of organised labour) on December 20, 2018, in Lagos that the December 31 deadline given to government to send a draft bill to the National Assembly to legislate on the N30,000 minimum wage recommendation by the Tripartite Committee, serves as a final notice to the government for us to resume the suspended November 6, 2018 nationwide strike.
"What that means is that a nationwide strike can start today, tomorrow or next without further notice to the government."
Speaking on today's protest, General Secretary of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said, yesterday, that NLC's 36 state councils, affiliate unions and friendly groups, such as civil society organisations, CSOs, have mobilised for the nationwide mass protest.
Ozo-Esan in a statement, entitled: "Tomorrow (Tuesday) is a day of protest and mass mobilisation," read: "It has come to our attention that a section of the news media has largely misrepresented our action plan in reaction to the delay in transmitting the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee on a new National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly by President Mohammadu Buhari.
"We immediately announced then that on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, there will be a nationwide mass mobilisation and protests simultaneously across all states in Nigeria. This does not translate to a strike. It is on record that each time we had cause to embark on a national strike, we say so publicly without any equivocation.
"When a date is decided for the commencement of a strike subsequently, we will inform the public appropriately."
N30,000 per month no longer negotiable
Similarly, Joint Action Front, JAF, while declaring members support for today's protest, insisted that the N30,000 minimum wage, as recommended and submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari by the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, was no longer negotiable.
In a joint statement by its National Chairman and Secretary, Dr. Dipo Fashina and Abiodun Aremu, JAF said: " The Joint Action Front, JAF, declares its support for the nationwide mass mobilisation and mass protests being organised by organised labour tomorrow (today) in furtherance of the struggle for the actualisation of the of N30,000 as the new Minimum Wage, which was agreed and endorsed by all parties in the Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee.
"JAF, hereby, urges its affiliates, allies and other pro-Labour civil society organisations to mobilise their members across the country to join forces with organised labour in their respective locations on January 8 to sensitise Nigerians on the necessity of a general strike to enforce the N30, 000 Minimum Wage against the anti-poor stand of governors, employers and Buhari's government."