June 22, 2024

Minimum Wage: Don’t plunge Nigeria into state of resentment, misery – Labour warns govs


…awaits Tinubu’s final decision before taking stand

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja 

The Organized Labour has warned some of the governors not to plunge the country into a state of resentment, misery, and impoverishment through their wrong pieces of advice.

The Organized Labour also reiterated that the position taken by President Bola Tinubu on the two proposals before him from the report of the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage would determine their next line of action.

Recall that while the government team and the organized private sector had made an offer of N62,000 on the last day of the meeting of the Tripartite Committee on New National Minimum Wage, the organized labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, demanded N250,000 as a new living wage.

Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, the Head of Information of the NLC, Comrade Benson Upah, said that the two labour centres will subject whatever figure the President submits to the National Assembly to the decision of the appropriate organs of the two labour centres.

He also ruled out the option of rushing to strike immediately, explaining that not every problem will be solved with a strike and adding that strike is always the last option.

Fielding questions over the agitation in some quarters that President Tinubu has delayed to make pronouncements on the figure to be transmitted to the National Assembly, Comrade Upah advised Nigerians to tarry for a while in drawing conclusions, contending that the report was sent to the President within the period of Democracy Day and Sallah when some relevant stakeholders had to travel out. 

The NLC spokesman said, “As at the time the Tripartite Committee submitted the report to the President, there was Democracy Day and then the Sallah break, all of which were practically lumped together for the political stakeholders to travel. 

“So, on the length of time taken for the transmission of the executive bill, we have no issue with that; what we are concerned about is what will be transmitted to the National Assembly.”

Asked what will be the reaction of the organized labour if the government decides to go with the N62,000 as offered by the government and the organized private sector against the labour’s demand of N250,000, he said:

“Well, let the government come up with it first, and then I even want you to note that there is division in the ranks of the government team, with the governors saying they can’t even pay the N62,000. So, whatever the government transmits to the National Assembly, that will determine our mood. So, let us wait to reach the bridge before we climb it.”

On the allegation that the state governors are the obstacle to the new minimum wage and what would be the position of the organized labour towards the disposition of the governors to a new living wage, Upah said that the governors having a negative disposition to a new living wage are in the minority but very vocal.

According to him, “In fairness, we will not say that the state governors are the obstacle; it is a vocal minority in the ranks of the governors that is projecting the governors as bad and dishonest people, and we know that minority group. Quite a number of governors have come out to say that whatever they say is the minimum wage, we are ready to pay, quite a number of them have said so. 

“Our message is to the vocal minority group in the rank of the governors, giving the governors a bad name, misleading the President, and creating a major social problem in the country. We would warn them to retrace their steps; their behaviour in their state has not enhanced the wealth or capacity of their states. 

“We will advise them to retrace their steps instead of giving a piece of advice that is capable of plunging the country into the state of impoverishment, the state of misery, and the state of resentment.

“Quite a number of Nigerians have come out to speak publicly; in fact, out of five Nigerians, four have come out to say that labour has a very good case, so government should do the needful and shame the devil.”

On the possibility of labour going on strike if government remains adamant about paying N62,000, he said, “We have said again and again that whatever government offers in the final analysis will be subject to the decision of the appropriate organs of the two labour centres. 

“So, we cannot say we are going to go on strike, no. We will look at what the government offers and then meet with the appropriate organs of the NLC and the TUC. It is not every problem that will be solved with a strike. Strike, as you know, is the last option.”