Nigeria: Minimum Wage - We Will Shut Down the Country - NLC, TUC

Joint NLC, TUC, ULC nationwide protest over alleged recalcitrance of government and employers to pay adequate minimum wage (file image).

"We will resist the wicked, unpopular, and death policy with all the blood in our veins."

The organised labour in Nigeria, a coalition of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), and other groups have expressed dissent over the plans to remove minimum wage from the exclusive bill by the National Assembly.

Leaders of the Lagos Chapter of TUC and NLC said they are ready for war and would shut down the country, if the National Assembly does not rescind the plan to remove minimum wage from the exclusive bill.

"As organised labour, we are ready to resist that bill, shut down the National assembly and if need be, shut down the entire nation for this course. This is what we are saying in clear terms, unequivocally and we are not mincing words," Gbenga Ekundayo, state Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) said.

Mr Ekundayo said the country should prepare for a "mega strike" and intense protests if representatives of the National Assembly refuse to the needful.

The Chairperson of NLC, Lagos State Chapter, Funmi Sessi, said the bill to remove minimum wage from the exclusive list was sponsored by Mohammed Dati, a senator from the northern region, and the organised Labour will do everything to resist it.

"The organised sectors have been talking about jaw jaw and not war war, but with that bill, if the National Assembly members do not do the needful and just step it down, this will be the beginning of the war.

"We are sitting on the keg of gunpowder in Nigeria. People are hungry, people are tired, people are angry. They are taking all the rights and privileges from us, flaunt wealth in our faces, throw our money around and corruptly enriching themselves and their children. We are ready for war," she said.

Mrs Sessi said what the country witnessed during the #EndSARS protests is a child's play compared to what will happen if the sponsored bill progresses.

The Protest

Hundreds of Nigerian workers on Wednesday held a nationwide protest in different states resisting the proposed removal of the minimum wage, hike in fuel and electricity prices, high rate of unemployment, amongst others.

In Lagos, workers from different associations assembled at the Lagos State House of Assembly chanting solidarity songs and calling for the reversal of the proposed removal of minimum wage from the exclusive bill.

Leaders of the labour organisations presented their grievances and demands to members of the Lagos State House of Assembly that came to receive them.

The leader of TUC in Lagos, Mr Ekundayo, said the bill reveals the backward thinking of many of the leaders representing Nigerians at the National Assembly.

"We expect our representatives, our leaders to have foresight. We expect them to think ahead and be creative, we do not expect them to come with tools to kill impoverish Nigerians.

"The implication of what they are trying to do is down the line, all of us might not be able to manage what we will see because even now that we have a minimum wage of N30, 000, we have not been able to follow through, many people are suffering," Mr Ekundayo said.

He said by the time the minimum wage is removed from the exclusive list to the concurrent list, private employers will be at liberty to do what they like.

"Instead of bringing obnoxious bills like these, leaders should become creative and that is what we demand of them," he added.

Mrs Sessi, the Chairperson of NLC, Lagos Chapter, said any bill sponsored to remove food from Nigerians' table is cruel.

"That senator, (Mohammed Dati), is a wicked man and people from his constituency should start the process of recalling him.

"He is a very shameless and unpatriotic Nigerian for what he has done. We hate the bill he has sponsored, we want to state it categorically that they have pushed us to the wall, the masses and the workers. We will resist them with the last drop of blood in our body.

"We are beggining to be fed up in this country, what we saw during the #EndSARS is going to be like a child's play if this bill goes on and those we call our leaders decide to see it to the third reading," Mrs Sessi said.

She added that workers in Nigeria have the right to a living wage, and the current minimum wage does not reflect that because it is a "starvation wage."

"We will resist the wicked, unpopular, and death policy with all the blood in our veins," she said.

Many workers who marched to the statehouse on Wednesday expressed how the minimum wage is not enough to feed a man for a month, not to say a man with a family.

"Electricity bill is on the rise, house rent has doubled, naira has no value, yet, these people are still against N30, 000 minimum wage for a man who has four children to feed. This is the height of wickedness, this country should be ready for war," a worker, Olugbenga Olumide said.

Some members of the Lagos House of Assembly, who represented the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, said the demands of the workers have been received and will be communicated accordingly.

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