The Nigeria Labour Congress criticised the Federal Government for adopting measures inimical to workers’ welfare to address the current economic recession in the country.
The NLC’s President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said this during the 14th NLC’s Rain School with the theme, ‘The Labour Movement and an Alternative Development Strategy,’ in Uyo on Monday.
He said that the response of the government to the recession was geared towards eroding the gains of the workers’ union through non-payment of wages, salaries and pensions.
“The challenge before all of us is an economy that is technically in recession and our government didn’t seem to get their acts right. Because if you look at the responses, it is geared towards taking away the gains that we have been able to make over the years.
“These are the only reasons they see in attending to the issues of the recession but I think we have options and those options are issues that we consider at this session. Comrades, it is important also for us to remain vigilant and get connected to our rank and file,” he added.
He stressed that the economic prescriptions of the Central Bank to devalue the naira, increase the pump price and increase taxes had been largely ineffective.
The NLC also has accused the Federal Government of planning to scuttle the new minimum wage in the country.
Wabba said that since the Federal Government constituted the Technical Committee on the Minimum Wage, on May, 26, 2016, the committee had only met once.
Wabba said the NLC had taken a decision to commence immediate agitation to protest alleged move by the government to sabotage the new minimum wage though delay tactics.
The NLC and the Trade Union Congress had made a proposal of N56,000 minimum wage to the Federal Government on April 27,2016.
Wabba said the economic situation of the country had become so bad that the conditions of living for the Nigerian worker had worsened.
The NLC President, who said that it had become impossible for a worker to raise a family of four for two days with the current minimum wage of N18,000 per month, called on workers to take their destiny in their hands.
He said, “The challenge before us is the issue of how to fix the economy because until the economy is doing well, it becomes difficult even for us as the working class to also do well. As I said earlier, the minimum wage is long overdue. As you are aware, we have put formally before government a platform to be created for us to engage the system through a tripartite system as provided by the law.
“Since that request was made, I think we had only one meeting where they said well, we are going to constitute the tripartite committee. As I speak to you today, that tripartite committee has not been put in place. And therefore delay also means that they are trying to sabotage or make sure that we don’t get our rights. We are going to start agitation immediately.
“With N18,000, certainly, there is no worker that can sustain a family even for a period of two days. In fact, the minimum wage cannot take you home, that is the reality. Therefore, we must be ready to take our destiny into our hands and be ready to engage this people. We must not allow our gains to be eroded.”
Wabba said that the NLC had taken a decision after a meeting with its state councils to commence action in states with three months liability of salaries, pension and gratuities.
He advised the state councils not to lament non-payment of salaries but to commence immediate industrial action which he said would have the backing of the national headquarters of the congress.
Wabba urged the workers to be vigilant and to engage the system as “nothing has changed.”
According to him, the Federal Government would have embarked on another round on increase of the fuel pump price if not for the protest led by the congress against the last increase.