The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress(TUC) on Friday vowed to resist any attempt by the state governors to slash the current N18,000 minimum wage,irrespective of dwindling economic fortunes in the country.
The labour centres who were obviously reacting to the Governors’ Forum stance that they can no longer sustain the current minimum wage,said they would not hesitate to mobilise their members to resist the action.
Recall that Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari had spoken on behalf of the forum on Thursday, that the N18,000 minimum wage was no longer sustainable given the slide in the monthly allocation arising from the fall in petroleum prices.
They warned the governors not to ignite another round of industrial unrest, vowing to mobIlise Nigerian workers against the move.
NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who spoke on the sidelines of the event, said rather than contemplating downward review of the N18,000 minimum wage, state governors should shun frivolous spending, cut down on their retinue of aides as well as their security votes.
“Workers would ground the nation’s economy down should the governors succeed on the downward review of the legally biding minimum wage,”he stressed.
He said,”Let me use this platform to respond to the uncharitable proposition of the state governors on the minimum wage issue. Labour is not the problem. The point to be made is that they have not been able to reduce the cost of governance. They should go and reduce their security votes. Let them also cut down on the number of their entourage.
“They must also be accountable to the citizens that voted them into power. We are going to resist any attempt to tamper with the payment under any guise. Let them also note that the N18,000 minimum wage was not allocated, it was negotiated through a tripartite process and it is a product of law that is even due for review.
“We are going to champion the review. Let us also put them on notice, if attempt is made to reduce, review or do anything outside the legal minimum wage of N18,000, which cannot even take us home, we are going to resist it. Nigerian workers will be mobIlised to resist.”
Also in a statement jointly signed by the TUC president,Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama and the Secretary General, Comrade (Barr.) Musa Lawal, the union described as laughable the position of the governors minimum wage issue.
The union stated that it was particularly baffled that the governors would say that the N18,000 minimum wage which came into force after a tripartite process was imposed on them.
It said,”What baffles any Nigerian is that the governors assert that the minimum wage was “imposed”. We are all living witnesses to the processes the last minimum wage negotiation took. There was a tripartite meeting, involving government at all levels, employers (through Nigeria’s Employers’ Consultative Association NECA) and the organized labour.
“One will say that the negotiation that took place fulfilled International Labour Organisation (ILO) standard of tripartism. After which the National Assembly enacted the new Minimum Wage Bill to law. And now, our leaders, the governors, short of suffering from total amnesia are talking of imposition. We are not only disappointed but also we fear for our future as responsible citizens of the country because we are daily confronted with policy summersault as development strategies.”
In the statement, the union asked the governors to think out of the box to shore up their revenue base, do away with profligacy and pilfering of the available resources, rather than making the harmless Nigerian workers to suffer unnecessarily.
The statement added,”We have always made it known that the cost of governance is high, especially as every state depends on federal government’s monthly allocation. Why should the innocent pay for the ?looting and stealing of our leaders. If they cut down salaries, how do they want business to flourish when the purchasing power is already very low. It appears all the hype on “anti -corruption” is hereby laid to rest, as workers must now steal to survive.
“One would have thought that the governors will think out of the box to explore the possibility of increasing Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) through exploration of resources, albeit abundant ones in their vicinity to improve their state resources. Furthermore, time to rethink the exploration of mineral resources being entrenched in the Exclusive List is now. We think it is better made concurrent. Here, review of 1999 constitution along the line of 1963 Constitution is not out of place.”