By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – Apparently jolted by the governors threat to reduce the minimum wage, the Trade Union Congress, TUC, has asked the federal government to review the current minimum wage with the aim of increasing it.
This was even as the Congress has urged the federal government to outrightly reverse the privatization of electricity distribution companies, DISCOS, and also cancel the increase in the electricity tariff, saying that had failed.
Speaking during a courtesy call on Vice President Yemi Osinabjo at the presidential villa, Abuja, the president of TUC, Mr Bobboi Kaigama, posited that by March this year, the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act 2011 would be five years old, arguing that by the provision of the of the International Labour Organisation’s Minimum Wage Fixing Convention 131 of 1970, an ad hoc committee should be raised every five years for the review.
He said: “We use this opportunity to serve notice that it is time for the FG to set up that committee and mandate it to kick start work on the fixing of a new minimum wage. We trust that this will be done immediately to save Nigerian workers from the harsh effects of present day economic realities which is taking tolls on their meager incomes”.
Kaigama who also described the increased electricity bill “anti-people” also criticized the and the Act of the National Assembly which empowered the regulators to arbitrarily jacking up the tariffs, saying the Act was “very lame, too simplistic and misleading’’.
He said: “Any Act that preys on the masses that it is supposed to protect negates the very essence of public policy.
“In the same vein, any act that compels the citizens to pay for services not delivered is not only flawed and undemocratic but ultra vires to the power of the National Assembly to make laws for the good of the country”.
Speaking on the DISCOS, the TUC president said that the sole aim of the DISCOS “is profiteering through fraud’’, saying that “We expect the presidency to issue a categorical statement affirming a return to status quo ante regarding the unit price of electricity,’’ Kaigama said.
The president also appealed to the federal government to intervene in the crisis bedeviling the health sector, urging it to ensure even distribution of appointments across over 20 professional bodies in the sector rather than to the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) alone.
This was even as he called on the government to implement implement all agreements reached between it and the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) since 2009.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we affirm that no single profession in the health sector can go it alone”, he said.