BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
LAGOS— FEDERAL Government and Labour leaders in the country are meeting today to avert planned strike by organized labour.
Vanguard gathered that Labour is planning the strike to force governments and private sector employers to implement the N18,000 minimum wage.
Indications emerged, weekend, that South West, South- South and South East governors with exception of Abia have agreed to implement the new wage following pressures on the governors by the Presidency.
It was learnt that the Revenue Allocation Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, RAMFC, will present guideline for the implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage at the meeting.
A source told Vanguard: “The meeting is called to enable the Federal Government to present its payment plans because as you are aware the Federal Government is yet to implement the new wage. It will show us its payment time table.
The Chairman of the Revenue Allocation Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission will be part of the meeting to present guideline for the implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage. The guideline has also been part of the implementation delay. If you recall, the Chairman of RAMFC was at our last National Executive Council, NEC, meeting where he told us that the guideline was being worked out.
“After the meeting with the Federal Government, we will be holding an emergency meeting of our NEC on Tuesday to brief members on the outcome of the parley with government. We will also take a definite date on the commencement of the strike because we will ensure that all levels of governments implement before the action will be put off.
“The N18,000 minimum wage was a product of a tripartite committee involving both Federal and state governments, private employers represented by Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, and organized labour represented by both NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, so, all the argument by governors of no money to pay is unwarranted and uncalled for.”
Meanwhile, Vanguard can authoritatively confirm that almost all the South West, South-South and South East governors with the exception of Abia have given assurance to implement the new wage as sources said the Presidency was mounting pressure on the governors to pay the new wage to save the nation from the looming strike and embarrassment.
A presidency source noted that though the Federal Government was already paying its employees N17,500, it will definitely pay the N18,000 new wage by this July.
In the North, investigation revealed that Kaduna, Zamfara, Kano and Kwara states will pay but were yet to publicly announce their payment plans.
Meanwhile, a meeting of Labour and its civil society allies under the aegis of Labour and Civil Society Coaltion, LASCO, is scheduled for Lagos on Thursday.
President of NLC and President-General of TUC, Comrades Abdulwaheed Omar and Peter Esele respectively will lead other labour leaders to the meeting to strategise on effective and all embracing industrial action.
Speaking under the auspices of the Joint Action Forum, JAF, in Lagos, the Labour and Civil Society Coalition, LASCO, said the group had resolved to join Labour to resist any attempt by Government at all levels to further delay payment of the wage.
Political office holders
The forum’s Secretary, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, called for reduction in the jumbo pay of, all political office holders.
Aremu said: “We call on all workers, youths, students, traders, artisans, etc. to support the struggle of Labour to compel the government to pay the new minimum wage. We also call on Labour to set up strike committees at the national level, state, individual industrial unions and workplaces to coordinate and mobilize mass support for the strike.
We shall work closely with labour to ensure that no worker loses his or her job on the account of the implementation of the minimum wage.
“The victory over minimum wage, if achieved, can only bring momentary relief as there are mountains of neo-liberal attacks on living and working conditions to contend with.”
Therefore, we are resolved to campaign against underfunding of education, health care, power, etc whose alternative provision by people for themselves in the face of failure of government has continued to eat deeply into the income, while those that cannot afford the cost are left to rot in lurch.”