May Day: Workers have been turned to beggars by govt —Labour leader

As the world celebrates May Day today, the organised labour in Nigeria has accused the Federal Government of turning workers into beggars.

The General Secretary, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade Bashir Alade Lawal told Saturday Tribune that “unemployment has been here for sometimes, but it is getting worse.” He said: “The major concern is that those who are supposed to be working, who have not less than six or eight dependents on the average, are extremely finding it difficult to survive.”

He stated that workers have not fared well at all in the last one year.

Lawal said, “we have not fared well at all. We recall that on April 18, 2019, the new minimum wage was signed into law by President Muhammad Buhari. But when you look at the happenings in the last one and half years, especially when COVID-19 crept into the system, we have not fared well at all. Government has been slamming one price increase after another on workers. Electricity tariff has been increased without corresponding supply of power, pump price of fuel has been increased, Value Added Tax has been increased and other price increases here and there.”

He added: “Sincerely, things are terribly bad and workers have been turned into beggars in attempts to make ends meet. In this kind of situation, where do you run to? There are threats of job losses here and there. The governors are threatening that they are going to remove minimum wage from exclusive legislative list to concurrent legislative list. This means that at the end of the day if this happens, the governors will continue to pay whatever amount they want to pay.

“These workers are supposed to bake the wealth of the nation through their productivity, but the challenges confronting us as a nation, which are not the fault of the workers, can never impact positively on productivity. At the end of the day, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country will be worse for it. Those who are supposed to be baking the wealth, those who are producing the wealth of the nation, the government needs to take good care of them. That is what happens in other parts of the globe”

When you impoverish the workers, Comd. Lawal said the nation would end up arriving at a vicious cycle of poverty. “That is what is staring us on the face now. When you see poverty ravaging the country, formerly it is used to be among the unemployed, the rural poor, but now it has crept into the urban centre where the majority of the workers are,” he said.

Meanwhile, the first time in six years, a united labour movement in the country will be celebrating the May Day together at the popular Eagles Square Nigeria in Abuja, and all 36 state capitals across the federation.

The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba and the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), will lead thousands of workers to the venue to mark what is globally referred to as Workers Day.

Since 2015, the crisis in the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), that almost polarized the Labour movement in the country, has affected the annual celebration, with major and popular industrial unions, such as NUPENG, NUEE, who broke away from their parent body, the NLC, holding separate May Day in Lagos.

Due to COVID-19, millions have lost their jobs while employers of Labour are unable to meet their responsibility in terms of provision of descent jobs and payment of living wage or salaries to their workers.

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