June 18, 2009

N52,200 pay demand irreversible —NLC

By Victor Ahiuma-Young
KANO—NIGERIA Labour Congress (NLC), has said government officials were foot-dragging on the N52,200 minimum wage being demanded by labour in order to sustain and continue their extravagant lifestyle in the midst of the so-called economic melt down.

It, however, insisted that the demand for pay rise for workers and general review of the national minimum wage was irreversible.

NLC lamented that though the government had agreed to set up a tripartite committee consisting representatives of the government, private sector employers and organised labour to negotiate a new minimum wage, nothing has happened since then.

NLC President, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar, who spoke in Kano, posited that though the other two demands which prompted the ongoing national protest by Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), are also very important and of general concerns, but the issue of minimum wage directly affects the poor working class.

Omar dismissed the argument by government and others that this is not the right time to ask for salary increase because of global economic recession which he said their (government officials) lifestyle is completely opposite and does not indicate any economic melt down,.while the masses of Nigeria wallow in abject poverty.

He pointed out that NLC and its allies have continued to argue that the existing Minimum Wage is one of the lowest in Africa and cannot sustain a worker’s basic needs and in recent times, political office holders’ salaries have been increased by over 800 per cent while the Minimum Wage has remained constant at the 2000 level of N5,500.

Comrade Omar insisted that the issue of the wage review demand, the opposition to the planned full deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum sector and privatisation of the public refineries, and full implementation of Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) report, must be addressed by government because they are very germane to the socio-economic and political stability of the country.

On his part, the General Secretary of NLC, Comrade John Odah, lamented that with the exception of few former leaders, Nigerian leaders have continued to be a source of disgrace to the nation in the eyes of international community.

The General Secretary noted that Nigerians are fed up with the mis-rule and mis-governance that leaders have subjected the country to.

According to him: “This country cannot continue the way our leaders have bastardised it. With the exception of few leaders, over the years, our leaders have continued to enrich themselves while the poor have continued to be poorer. Our leaders have continued to disgrace us in the comity of nations and we are saying enough is enough because we are not going to tolerate it anymore.”