Minimum wage: Labour staged National Day of Mourning and Outrage protest

Minimum wage: Labour staged National Day of Mourning and Outrage protest

Chris Steven, Abuja

Following the Federal Government’s inability to agree to pay the proposed N30, 000 minimum wage, the organized labour on Tuesday staged a protest tagged “National Day of Mourning and Outrage protest” in Abuja.

 President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, led the protest which was organized by said NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC).

The protesters who marched through the Three Arms Zone, where the Presidency, National Assembly Complex and Judiciary are located carried placards with inscriptions, “No minimum wage, No work from Nov. 6’’, “Minimum Wage of N30,000 not negotiable’’, “Minimum wage will boost Nigerian economy.’’

Others are: “Upward review of Minimum wage will not trigger inflation’’, “Ngige and governors do not own Nigeria, Nigeria belongs to all workers,’’ among others.

According to Wabba, labour frowned at the manipulation and bending of facts in an attempt to delay or derail the processes needed to promulgate a new national minimum wage act.

“We call on the federal government to take necessary steps to ensure the enactment of a new national minimum wage act as we cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony,” he said.

Wabba explained that the new national minimum wage was both legally and materially due since 2016, saying “the Minimum Wage Act prescribes a five-yearly cycle of review.”

He also said that coupled with the delay, the increase in the pump price of petroleum products by over 85 per cent and the devaluation of the Naira by 100 per cent in 2016, have massively affected the cost of living.

The NLC president lamented that the exchange rate and inflation rose to an all-time high, rendering the N18, 000 unjustifiable as a basis for the continued national minimum wage.

“Given the realities of our economic condition, the least any worker should earn is N30, 000,” he said.

Speaking during the protest, {President of TUC, Bobboi Kaigama, noted that the implementation of the national minimum wage was imperative as workers in the country were faced with hard times.

He called on the federal and state governments to do the needful, arguing that N30, 000 was not too much for them to pay workers as minimum wage.

“They cannot say they do not have money; the political office holders have the money and also the government. We also know how much they are putting into politics and the forthcoming general elections.

“Workers are not slaves but rather they create the wealth of the nation, they cannot continue to suffer. After all the minimum wage is long overdue,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the organised labour had threatened to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike with effect from November 6, unless the government accepts and commences the payment of the negotiated N30,000.

Labour noted that the tripartite committee on the national minimum wage had since completed its assignment for onward submission of its report to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had said that the committee was yet to conclude negotiation on the agreed figure.

However, the federal government has offered N24,700, while the state governors also offered N20,000 as minimum wage