As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate the new year, organised labour has said nationwide implementation of the New National Minimum Wage and Consequential Adjustment in salary would top its agenda in the year 2020.
It recalled the success and challenges of the year 2019, amongst which it said include, protecting workers interests, promoting democratic values, advocating for the rule of law and defending human cum trade union rights.
The Nigeria Labour Congress be(NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in separate messages said labour sustained its fight against anti-labour practices in the work place and insisted on the observance of the rules of decent work.
“We also championed the cause of fair wages especially through our campaign for the passing of the new national minimum wage of N30,000 into law and subsequent negotiation of consequential salary adjustment for workers in the public service.”
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba however said the labour centre will pursue with an uncommon sense of duty the implementation of the new wage.
“We commend the states already paying the new national minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries for assuming the pacesetter status.
We use this medium to implore states that are yet to implement the new national minimum wage including the states that are yet to begin negotiation with labour on the consequential wage adjustment to speedily do the needful.
“In tandem with our position as adopted and communicated after a stakeholders’ meeting on December 11, 2019, organized labour in Nigeria will not guarantee industrial harmony in states that fail to implement the new national minimum wage by December 31, 2019. “We direct our state councils to be on the standby to robustly engage state governments that fail to obey our laws.
We wish to remind State Governors that no excuse would be good enough for failure to pay.
“The ongoing revelations on the monumental looting perpetrated by former governors prove that only an intent to loot, and deadened conscience not availability of resources would be the reason any Governor would hesitate to pay workers the N30,000 new national minimum wage and the consequential adjustment in salaries. The new national minimum wage is now a law and State Governors do not have the luxury to choose whether to pay or not.”
Wabba also stated that the Congress will mount a very robust campaign for the generation of mass jobs and for already existing jobs to be decent.
He said, “To this end, the NLC is perfecting plans for a National Job Summit in 2020. We will get stakeholders: experts, policymakers, concerned demographics and workers on a roundtable to find answers and solutions to Nigeria’s burgeoning unemployment crisis.
“In the spirit of growing the economy and creating jobs, we urge our compatriots especially our elites to change our consumption habits. We must consume what we produce. We must patronize “Made in Nigeria”.”
The Trade Union Congress in its message, said it expected politicians and all Nigerians allegiance in the year 2020 to be to the country and not individuals, even if in power.
It also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency relinquish his position as the Oil Minister.
The Congress in a new year message by its President, Quadri Olaleye said a
technocrat with consummate know-how should be allowed to man the industry for efficiency and effectiveness.
“The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) cannot continue to be the ATM of a privileged few and their cronies,” he said.
The Labour centre also condemned the increase in the country’s debt profile, which it noted is at an alarming rate. Olaleye said international bodies, including the World Bank have severally warned on the danger of Nigeria’s ceaseless borrowing.
He said, “Besides the $29.96 billion loan which has gained the approval of the National Assembly, reports have it that the country has so far allegedly borrowed $1 billion from African Development Bank; $1 billion Eurobond, with additional $500 million expected from Global Medium Term Note Program.
“The N5.8 billion borrowed from China Exim Bank is hanging on the country’s neck. Over 30 per cent of the federal government’s revenue will be used for debt servicing.
The question is how has these loans benefitted the ordinary masses of the country? How can we use as much as N2.7tn to service debt and budget a paltry N2.4tn on expenditure?”
The TUC President said it is hard to come to terms with the position of the Information Minister, Mr. Lai Muhammed who told Nigerians that $84 billion loan is nothing to worry about.
“We are tempted to feel that politicians are not in tune with the plight of the masses,” he stated.
He added that it is laughable for the law makers approving N37 billion for the renovation of the NASS building that was built with less than N8 billion, noting that it is not fair in a country that has mortgage challenge in millions.
He said, Government must diversify the economy, reduce cost of running government, jail looters of our commonwealth and do projects that would impact positively on the people. We yearn for a new Nigeria. A better Nigeria is realistic.”
PENGASSAN in its new year message jointly signed by the President Ndukaku Ohaeri and the General Secretary, Lumumba Okugbawa expressed fear about what it said portends a grave danger to the country’s nascent democracy if not checked . The union amongst others listed disturbing emerging trend of disobedience to court orders, clamp down on media establishments, vagrant arrests of journalists, and social crusaders, on flimsy reasons.
“Also worrisome is the deliberate distribution and propagation of inciting, provocative and misleading messages and fake news by some disgruntled elements in the society capable of causing unrest and civil disobedience.
“The core fundamentals of modern democracy is the rule of law; without it, there is no democracy. No Nation worth its existence will undermine this essential component of a free society,” it stated.
The message read further, “PENGASSAN therefore advises for restraint by the various Security and Law enforcement Agencies with regards to potential human right abuses and utter disregard to judicial pronouncements and avoid the reoccurrence of Col Sambo Dasuki rtd and Mr. Omoyele Sowore episode in our political clime and nationhood.
“We also demand that the Judiciary should henceforth discharge their constitutional responsibilities within the dictates of the Rule of Law and for posterity.”