United Labour Congress
The Three tiers of Government and the Organized Private Sector(OPS) in Nigeria have been called upon to not to make the retrenchment of workers as a condition for the implementation of the N30, 000 new national minimum wage.
This call was made by the All Workers Convergence(AWC) through its National Coordinator, Comrade Andrew Emelieze.
''Government at all levels are called upon to come out with a policy statement, more of a commitment that no employer of labour, whether in the public sector or private sector must retrench before they can pay the new minimum wage. Workers are not begging any employer of labour and if at all they go ahead with their evil machinations, labour must pose a counter reaction, which of course must be uncompromising and that is the only way we can stop them from exploiting Nigerian workers. Any attempt by government to downsize would be vehemently resisted by workers''.
''To check any sector, government or private, from not implementing the new national minimum wage, the labour movements are called upon to also issue a policy statement that the country risks a national strike, if any employer of labour refuses to pay the new national minimum wage or goes ahead to downsize'', Comrade Emelieze stated.
The signing into law of the N30,000 new national minimum wage by President Muhammadu Buhari was received with joy by all Nigerians, especially workers and their dependents. Even though workers are not too comfortable with the consensus method of picking leaders of their unions.
The leaders who emerged via consensus and the 36 state Governors would in the coming weeks,to a great extent, determine how long this joy will last.
In this interview, the Founder, Spiritual Head and Grand Imam of Shafaudeen-in-Islam Worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke opines that Nigerian workers think of only themselves at the detriment of retirees and other Nigerians. Excerpts :
Do you think workers in the states of the federation have any cause to rejoice over the signing into law of the N30,000 new national minimum wage by President Buhari ?
Generally workers are expected to celebrate the so called N30,000 new national minimum wage in the preciseness of unsustainable economy with poor growth rate, that has no impact on the general lives of the people.
Workers are expected to be holistic, fighting for the cause of the welfare of the people and the structural effects of our democracy, that is yet to be achieved.
Injustice and inequality, marginalization and equity challenges are supposed to be in place before Nigeria and its states can have peace and development that may be sustainable and beneficial to all.
I would have expected that the workers’ unions fight the cause of the retirees and the issue of unpaid salary arrears, before vigorously embarking the satiation for the increase in the minimum wage.
This is because fighting for an holistic cause is expected to be step wise and developmental, which implies that we expect that no state government should be able to stay in power without been confronted every week with the workers’ agitation on these issues; to force them to reason that it was only through the peoples’ mandate in democracy that they had been able to get into the juicy positions of power.
Unfortunately, Nigerian workers became selfish, limiting themselves to the cause of those people in service only, at least ensuring that all states comply rationally with the old minimum wage would have made a good level playing ground to fight for the increase.
State Governors under our democratic dispensation have only succeeded in impoverishing the people, most especially their children-graduates-majority of whom are made to roam the streets aimlessly thereby becoming nuisances.
While government officials and the executive live in affluence, the people under them continue to groan under the harshness of abject poverty affecting their fundamental human rights to have access to the very good things of life; that can make them realize the benefit of governance dynamics.
Now, we are having a change of government come My 29, 2019, derisively, the outgoing Governors may show deceptive friendship, by accepting to pay the N30,00 new national minimum wage, to set a trap for the incoming government, so as to make the new government highly unpopular among the people who gave them the mandate.
Those who will continue in power, maybe ready to damn the consequence, by not agreeing to pay the new wage.
It is a known fact that only between two to three states have the capacity to pay the new national minimum wage, even in the face of unabated corruption.
The government may end up contending with industrial disputes.
This is not to say that Nigeria is not potentially capable to implement the assented payment of the new national minimum wage of N30,000, but the government failed to back it up with good economic policy and formula.
The cheapest way to do this, does not lie in increasing the Value Added Tax(VAT), because this would negatively affect the prices of commodities for home consumption as well as inviting increase in inflation, with direct consequence on the impoverished masses, who constitute more than 70 per cent of the population.
For equity sake, in which the welfare of the masses would be taken care of, there is the need for the downward review of the salaries of the political class, the executive and the Legislature in particular, say by half, so that the upward review of the minimum wage, which is more of a daily token and stipend in the hands of the elite, who constitute less than 10 per cent of the population of Nigeria, would succeed.
If this had been done, the heavy top would have rolled down to augment the meager amount meant for mass distribution.
Stomach infrastructure is basically primary and should not be toyed with politically, otherwise the provision of basic amenities, if absent, would rubbish the efforts of government in the areas of transportation, mining, power and other sectors that would aid development.
Stomach infrastructure has direct link with the ability of government to provide employment and empower all Nigerians, most especially the youth, so that they would be less restive.
Remember, more than 95 per cent of the small scale industries facilitated industrialization in all the developed countries-the United States of America, United Kingdom, Russia, China and South Korea.
This very good model is sought after by Malaysia and Singapore, which gained independence in 1965.
Let this government in the next political dispensation follow suit, by developing the nation and be virile enough to become a strong institution, rather than building strong individuals, who have become untouchable in the face of corruption, destroying equitable legacy for our youth as it is today. God save Nigeria.
The All Workers Convergence(ACW) has declared that workers would no longer respect the Federal Government even if it eventually approves the new national minimum wage.
The AWC made this disclosure through its National Coordinator, Comrade Andrew Emelieze in a chat with Federationews2day.
''Even if the Federal Government eventually approves a new national minimum wage today, government has lost the respect of Nigerian workers. It is a big shame that up till this moment government has not been able to pay the Nigerian workers what is due to them, rather our so called government has been systematically, delaying the process''.
''From one episode of drama to another episode, all has been equal to zero and the Nigerian workers are the ones paying the price. Quite unfortunate, government cannot redeem its image, workers' impression of government, is that of a callous monster, who cares less about fairness and justice, but rather a government that believes that workers must suffer before they get what rightly belongs to them''.
''In conclusion, our government is shooting itself in the leg, with the unfolding drama of the new national minimum wage. Government has been able to make the Nigerian workers know who their real enemy is and this has made workers to increase their level of consciousness'', Comrade Emelieze asserted.
The All workers Convergence(AWC) has warned of the imminent withdrawal of the solidarity of Nigerian workers for their labour leaders if a new national minimum wage is not achieved by end of December 2018.This warning was given by the AWC, through its National Coordinator, Comrade Andrew Emelieze in a chat with People.''Our labour leaders must redeem their image by ensuring that before the end of December, 2018, everything about a reasonable living wage is achieved, else the leaders would seize to enjoy the solidarity of the Nigerian workers. The Nigerian labour movement has missed the target, in the past three and half years, they have been unable to achieve a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers, despite been part of the Tripartite committee.''''The involvement of labour in that committee was a colossal waste of time as nothing tangible has come out of it. What is painful now, is that the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) the Trade Union Congress(TUC) and the United Labour Congress(ULC) have deliberately refused to hit the nail on the head, instead they are romanticizing the situation, begging the question at all times, thereby leaving workers to stray like sheep without shepherd''.''The feeling everywhere is that labour not achieving the new national minimum wage in the past three and half years, is tantamount to failure and since labour has failed the Nigerian workers, the Nigerian workers, of course demand an apology, over the non actualization of a new national minimum wage in the past three and half years''.''Besides, engaging government on the issue of new national minimum wage, labour leaders must also engage themselves and do self-examination, to determine if they are really and truly pursuing the interest of the Nigerian workers. Take a look at the modus operandi of the labour movement, you see a movement that has been pampering government. The conclusion is that the labour movement in Nigeria is not just weak and conservative, but also reactionary. And as a result, there is the urgent need for labour to overhaul and shed its present toga, this would go a long way in redeeming the image of labour'', Comrade Eemlieze asserted.
The All Workers Convergence(AWC) has declared that the Federal Government was not ready to pay the N30,000 new national minimum wage.
This declaration was made by the National Coordinator of the AWC, Comrade Andrew Emelieze in a chat with People.
''It is becoming crystal clear that the Federal Government is not ready to pay Nigerian workers a living wage. They might as well continue to deceive us as they have done through the setting up of a tripartite committee, unless our labour centres maintain a dogged position and insist that nothing would be reduced from the N30,000, labour has proposed as the new minimum wage, through strikes and struggles, only then can we compel the government to pay the new minimum wage, which of course, will not take the workers home.''
''It is quite unfortunate that despite the compromise position of our labour centres, to agree for N30,000 as the new minimum wage, our government is reluctant to agree with the meagre amount. The AWC calls for public support and understanding of the masses towards the November 6, indefinite nationwide strike action by our labour centres, towards achieving the N30,000 living wage'', Comrade Emelieze concluded.
The All Workers Convergence(AWC) has raised that alarm that the Federal Government has with held salaries of workers nationwide for the month of June, to frustrate the one day sit-at-home action of the workers on Monday July 2.
According to the National Coordinator of the AWC, Comrade Andrew Emelieze, who made this disclosure, in a chat with People, the workers will go ahead with the action.
''In fact Government is trying to frustrate the one day sit-at-home national strike. Government has refused to pay workers their June salaries, just to frustrate the one day national sit-at-home action. To this end, we call on workers natiowide to sit at home on Monday July 2, 2018, in protest gaainst the denila of the rights of existence of the Nigerian workers by Government''.
''Any worker that is not comfortable with the N18,000 minimum wage should sit at home on that day. We are appealing to the conscience of all Nigerian workers to make it succeed. An it shall succeed'', Comrade Emelieze asserted.
Howevr, the Chairman of the Oyo state council of the Trade Union Congress(TUC), who is also the Chairman Joint Negotiating Council(JNC) in the state, Comrade Emmanuel Ogundiran disclosed that there was no directive from the Labour centres in Abuja to that effect.
''There is nothing like that, I have no directive, no letter to that effect, in respect of the sit-at-home action, as leaders of organized Trade unions in the state, we will not do anything that would jeopardize or prejudice the negotiation, whatever we cannot defend we will not go into it. Any worker that abides by the directive and is absent without leave, the consequence is summary dismissal, and they cannot call us to defend them because we did not call them out'', Comrade Ogundiran warned.
In a related development workers in the a siazble number of Local Governments of Oyo state have insisted that the state Government was yet to pay them for a number of months, just as they stressed that the N9 billion the state Government claimed to have released, only covered payment of salaries for two months.
In his reaction, the state President of the National Union of Local Government Employess (NULGE), Comrade Tititlola Sodo said that the over N9.7 billion released by the state Government was used to pay two months salaries of Primary School Teachers.
''The N9.7 billion the state Government released was a allocation for March and April, 2018, including 10 per cent Internally Generated Revenue(IGR), no gratuity was paid About N3.6 billion was used to pay the two months salaries of Primary School Teachers and another N1.3 billion was used to pay leave bonus. Salaries for workers at the newly created Local Council Development Areas(LCDAs) are still paid at the mother Local Governments. 2o Local Goverments are up to date in the payment of salaries, quite a few still have salary arrears outstanding, ranging from one to six months''.
Comrade Sodo urged the workers to still have confidence in their union leaders, saying ''we have come this far, workers should not lose hope, they should rely on their unions ''.