By Bimbola Oyesola , [email protected]
The Nigerian workers agitation for increase in wages to cushion the effect of rising cost of living may have gotten a global support as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said the increase in minimum wages will guarantee social protection.
The ILO’s Director-General, Gilbert F. Houngbo, in a recent report by the global organisation made it clear that he sees increasing minimum wages and guaranteeing social protection benefits as priority responses necessary to protect the most vulnerable and prevent scarring caused by the multiple and interlocking global crises we face.
This may be given credence to various calls by the Organised Labour in the country who in recent times are calling for review of the new minimum wage.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari in April 2019, signed a new minimum wage bill into law which ushered in a new pay structure for Nigerian workers with the federal government commencing implementation almost immediately.
The bill also makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay their workers the sum of N30,000 and it is expected to be reviewed after five years.
But just three years into the implementation, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Non-Academic Staff of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) and now the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) have called for a review as the inflation have eroded the workers pay and their purchasing powers.
The ASCSN said President Muhammad Buhari is also in support of the re-adjustment of the present national minimum wage which has been eroded by the spiralling inflation in the country.
The President of the union, Tommy Etim Okon in an interview with Daily Sun, echoed the voice of the Presidency that the current social economic indices does not support the current National minimum wage for workers.
According to him, the union with the directive from the National Executive Council (NEC) is sending a proposal to the president for upward review of the salary for workers in the civil service.
Okon said the National minimum wage were one of the items placed before President Buhari when the union visited him in Aso Rock recently.
He said, “We led the CWC members to Mr President and I must put it on record that, that is the first time the President of this country has ever received an affiliate on a courtesy call and he acknowledge that the social economic indices does not favour the thirty thousand minimum wage and there is a working document to ensure government approved a new wage to be in line with the inflation and the socio economic realities,” he stated.
Okon also referred to the recent press statement released by Ministry of Labour also confirming that government is coming up with a template to ensure the full implementation of the new minimum wage.
He lamented that the workers are at the receiving end and there is need for the union to come into partnership with government in order to ensure that the well being of Nigerian workers are well taking care of and protected.
He opined that there are still recalcitrant governors in the states who have refused to pay the agreed National Minimum Wage for workers.
“We as labour movement seriously kicked against the situation where minimum wage is taking out of exclusive legislation list, as the intention of the state governors are not to the benefits of the Nigerian workers,” he said.
The Labour leader urged all workers to get their PVC because that is where they are going to take a decision against any political parties who are working against their interest.
On the union’s crisis, he expressed that in the coming days, the association will petition the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) regarding the looting of the secretariat by the past leaders of the association.
He explained that during the looting, cash and other valuables were carted away by personalities who once called themselves leaders of the association.
He said, “We are not going to fold our hands and watch few destroy what we have used our sweat to build, they just have to face the wrath of the law.”
Meanwhile the association at its NEC has approved the appointment of Joshua Apebo, as Secretary-General with effect from January, 2023.
He will be taken over from the incumbent Alade Bashir Lawal who will be exiting office on December 31, 2022.