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NLC, TUC begin strike….shut down economy, direct workers to stay at home

The Organised Labour has directed all public and private establishments including offices, banks, schools and filling stations, to close down operations from Thursday, that is today.

In a joint press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, the leadership of the various organs of organised labour further directed workers in both sectors to remain at home until further notice.

Labour lamented that despite series of assurances from the Federal Government to give Nigerian workers a new minimum wage by September 2018, government suddenly took a decision to adjourn the meeting of the Tripartite Committee, which was principally set up to arrive at a new minimum wage.

Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), disclosed that government’s recent actions were clear signs it was not ready for a new national minimum wage saying, “It has only been taking workers for a ride, it has only been taking advantage of workers misplaced abiding faith or trust. Given this circumstance, this warning strike is absolutely necessary. It is a precursor to the main strike which will be the mother of all strikes!”

He explained that the warning strike in the first instance, was to compel the government to reconvene the meeting of the Committee in order to bring it to a logical conclusion.

“In compliance with this mandate, all workers in the public and private sectors at all levels across the country have been directed to comply. Industrial unions, state councils, all worker organistions and our civil society allies have been directed to step up mobilization of their members

“All public and private institutions, offices, banks, schools, public and private business premises including filling stations are to remain shut till further notice. All those who mean well for this country are to see to the success of this action. Further more, this action is to remain in force until further directives are given,” he said.

Giving reasons for the warning strike, Wabba said, “The National Minimum Wage Committee was inaugurated in November 2017 but commenced work in March 2018 with timelines to deliver on its mandate of arriving at a new national minimum wage in August/ September 2018.

“The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige himself in February this year during the 40th anniversarycelebration of the Nigeria Labour Congress, assured workers that they would have a new minimum wage in September.

“The Committee was satisfied that it received memoranda and inputs from 21 state governments, specialised agencies of the federal government, the Organised Private Sector, Organised Labour and the general public. This was reason why the Organised Labour was outraged and shell-shocked by the decision of Government to adjourn the meeting of the Committee indefinitely to enable consultations by the Federal Government team.

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“The decision was against the principle of collective bargaining. Organized Labour considered the conduct of the Government as an act of bad faith and an insult to its members, who out of uncommon sacrifice and patriotism had hearkened to government’s appeal to delay negotiation for a new national minimum wage by two years. Organsed Labour reached out to the Government to reconsider this decision, but it was rebuffed.

“Left with no other option, members of the Organised Labour served a 14-day notice on the Government which to reconvene the meeting of the Committee to enable it conclude its work.”

Wabba added that, “The justification for a new national minimum wage cannot be over argued and it is not about salary-earning Nigerians only. May we remind all Nigerians that before this government increased the pump price of petroleum products by over 80% and devalued the Naira by over a 100%, commodity prices were considerably cheaper, tariffs were more friendly, rents and transportation charges were bearable, while wages of workers have remained static.

“Today, these things have all changed! The economic decisions of this Government led to fundamental consequential effects on workers and citizenry including unbearable electricity tariffs, punitive exchange rate, and hyper inflation, all of which led to a rising cost of living for workers and other Nigerians, and bad business for business people.

“Government in appreciation of these hardships, set up the Palliatives Committee to fashion out mitigatory strategy, policies, and programmes to cushion the vagaries of its policies, but to date, we are not aware that any of the recommendations of the Committee has been implemented.

“Government’s pronouncement goes to cast further doubt on the integrity of the government as well as underscores the inherent danger in doing business with Government. It is beginning to look like this Government does not intend to keep its promises to workers. And take note, when workers and other Nigerians do not have capacity to purchase goods or services, businesses die. This is not about salaried people. It is about everyone. It is about a chain. So stay at home.”

At the time of filing this report, the Federal Government and organised labour were in a close room meeting, in view of the strike.

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