THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Monday, declared that virtually all the economic polices of the present administration are aimed at eroding the little gains achieved by Nigerian workers in recent years.
Its president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who spoke in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, during the 14th NLC Rain School, also alleged that the Federal Government was sabotaging the proposed N56,000 new minimum wage submitted to it.
To this end, the congress warned the workers to brace up for the struggles ahead, adding that the government did not seem to get its acts right.
“The challenge before all of us in an economy that is technically in recession is that our governments didn’t seem to get their acts right. If you look at the responses, it is geared towards taking away the gains that we have been able to make over the years.
“The issue of our wages, our pension and gratuity are gradually being treated with ignominy and that is why we must come together and resist all forms of divide and rule tactics which they may want to construe to weaken our collective resolve.
“As it were, nothing has changed, and if the narrative has not changed, we must do what we need to do to engage the system. In fact, if not because of what we did, government would have started another round of increase in the petrol pump price.
“This is because if they had predicated the initial increase on the exchange rate of Naira to a dollar, which has been on a free fall from the beginning of last year, the price would have shot up,” he said.
The NLC president regretted that rather than helping to solve the problem, prescriptions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stabilise the value of the Naira had not worked, leaving the Nigerians workers on the vagaries of price mechanisms which had weaken their purchasing power.
He warned the workers never to expect their demands to be achieved easily, adding that their interest could only be protected through collective struggle and agitations.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), it will be recalled, had, on April 26, jointly presented a proposed new minimum wage of N56,000 to the Federal Government, with a clear message that the current N18,000 minimum wage was no longer feasible under the present economic reality.
Following the presentation, the Federal Government and organised labour, on May 26, agreed on the composition of a 16-member technical committee, to work out modalities for the implementation of the new minimum wage.
However, almost four months into the composition of the committee, the NLC president said the committee had only met once, a development he described as “a surreptitious move by the Federal Government to sabotage the process.”
According to him, the minimum wage was long overdue.