Nigeria’s organized labour groups have vowed to pursue their current demand for a N66,500 minimum wage in the country to logical conclusions.
Leaders of the labour unions, including President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Mr Ayuba Wabba, and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Mr Bobboi Kaigama, gave the promise to millions of Nigerian workers Tuesday during the 2018 May Day celebration in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Wabba, who spoke against the background of the theme for the May Day Celebration, “Labour Movement in National Development: Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win’’, said that organized labour would resist any attempt to scuttle the process of upward review of the national minimum wage given the social and economic realities in the country.
He said: “We are battle ready against public and private organisations that would refuse to conform to the new minimum wage. As the benefits of a new minimum wage cannot be overemphasized, an increase in the minimum wage will pull many workers out of poverty.
“A new minimum wage will put the country in positive light globally as it would ensure compliance with the International Labour Organisation standards. Overall, an increase in the minimum wage will raise the levels of productivity and enhance the purchasing power of Nigerian workers.
“Our current demand of N66, 500 as the national minimum wage will only manage to meet the basic needs of the average Nigerian worker if inflation is kept at a single digit”, the NLC leader stressed
According to him, the organised labour has also insisted that once the Minimum Wage Act is signed into law, all employers in public and private sectors must comply with its provisions.
Wabba asserted: “We shall stand with those willing to pay more than the minimum. We shall resist any move to renegotiate the minimum wage at any level. The Federal Government must ensure that federal allocations are not released to states and local governments that refuse to implement the new minimum wage.
“We are battle ready against public and private organisations that would refuse to conform to the new minimum wage. We shall ensure that governments that refuse to pay the new minimum wage will not receive the support of the working class, pensioners and their families, ‘’he added.
Commenting, President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Bobboi Kaigama, who noted the challenges facing the country were many, but not insurmountable, expressed optimism “that given the high expectation of the Nigerian workers, the tripartite committee will complete its work by August 2018 as planned.”
According to him, concluding the negotiations not later than the scheduled target date would make it possible for the hard–pressed Nigerian workers to have a new lease of life through the implementation of the Act.
In his remarks at the occasion, Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, commended the Nigerian workers for their resilience and contributions towards nation building.
He said: “I want to use this occasion to encourage workers to always imbibe the culture of communication. You should uphold the principle of the use of strike as a last resort in the pursuit of socio-economic goals and aspirations.
“Let us endeavour to conserve our man days’ productively. I promise you our doors are open to engage your leadership towards a consensual end in all relevant matter of interest to you all”, the minister assured.