N30,000 minimum wage, a perfect gift —NLC

Nigerian workers will join their counterparts across the world to celebrate the 2019 Workers’ Day; amidst joy of an improved wage but poor working conditions and state of the economy.

According to the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, as workers celebrate the 2019 May Day, the N30,000 national minimum wage, already passed into law by the National Assembly and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, recently is a perfect gift to Nigerian workers.

This year’s May Day is also being celebrated to commemorate the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Centenary. The NLC president has therefore said Nigeria has taken a decision to fully identify with the ILO Centenary celebration.

However, he emphasized clearly that the most significant event as Nigerian workers celebrate is the joy and expectation of receiving better salaries as they eagerly await the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage.

It is indeed a good gift at a very important time, Wabba said, adding, “we have demonstrated tenacity in the pursuit of a new national minimum wage for workers. We have held several rallies, protest marches at both federal and state levels and even embarked on a few strike actions to press home our demand for a new national minimum wage.

“A few weeks ago, the two chambers of the National Assembly passed the National Minimum Wage (2019) Amendment bill. The bill was assented by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 18, 2019. There cannot be a more perfect May Day gift for Nigerian workers.”

But the NLC president said the gift was a right of the workers. He Said: “The upward review of the national minimum wage is not so much a gift as it is the right of workers. This right was delayed for too long. As Mr. President ordered during the signing into law of the National Minimum Wage (2019) Amendment bill, we call on all employers of labour to commence payment immediately.”

Wabba tasked the leadership of the state councils to make the immediate payment of the new national minimum wage of N30,000 and review of monthly pension by state governments their top priority.

He said: “We have crossed the bridge of the debate whether state governments can pay the new national minimum wage or not. The feedback we got from the nationwide rallies for a new national minimum wage which took place in January 2019 indicated that most state governments are willing to pay the new national minimum wage once Mr. President grants his assent. The truth is that if state governments cut down on high cost of governance and corruption, they will be more than able to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000.”

He pointed out that due consideration would be given to the ILO Centenary as well. Wabba said: “We have also taken a decision to fully identify with the ILO Centenary celebrations this May Day. I urge all our state councils to reflect this in preparations, programmes and activities for the 2019 May Day.”

Most importantly, he said the 2019 May Day celebration will unite Nigeria Labour Movement. According to Wabba, “the 2019 May Day should be celebrated in unity by the Organized Labour family using one platform in each state.”

He expressed concern with the shape, structure and dynamics of the national economy, regretting that high inflation and poor salaries have combined to erode the purchasing power of workers.

“The design of our economy is essentially rent-seeking and exclusivist thus undermining productivity and job creation. Our industrial base is almost totally decimated due to erratic power supply, shabby physical infrastructure and poor policy choices.”

The NLC president rejected completely the proposals to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) as a means of funding the 2019 budget; and cautioned the government against contemplating any further increase in the price of refined petroleum products especially the premium motor spirit (PMS).

He said: “We understand that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advised the Federal Government to remove the so-called petrol subsidy which is a euphemism for increase in the pump price of petrol. This advice is ill-willed and completely insensitive to the suffering of most Nigerians.

“Congress believes that the current regime of petrol subsidy reeks of corruption. The crisis in our downstream petroleum sector is occasioned by the failure of successive governments to deploy the political will to end the national shame of importing refined petroleum products. Nigeria is the only oil producing country caught in this malady.

“It is our abiding conviction that the chronic anomaly of petrol subsidy as primarily fueled by constant devaluation of the Naira and fluctuation in the international price of crude oil can only be solved permanently by getting our local refineries to work optimally. We will resist any attempt to transfer the cost of incompetence by government to the masses.”

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