Nationwide strike looms over new minimum wage

Posted by News Express | 7 January 2017 | 3,065 times

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Protesting workers.

Romance between Ayuba Wabba led Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Federal Government appears waning as organised labour plans a total lockdown nationwide.

The showdown mapped for the New Year will cripple all business and government activities.

Labour listed among its grouses upon which the industrial action will be carried out to include, governments (states and federal) insensitivity  to workers welfare; dilly dally with the N56,000 minimum wage  and federal government’s hidden support for a new labour Centre, the United Labour Congress, ULC, led by the factional leaders, Joe Ajaero, and Igwe Achese.

Sources close to the organised labour in Abuja told this paper that the union has carefully watched government over the out-gone year and uncovered so much insincerity on its part.

It listed unpaid wages in the states as well as some federal government MDAs as some of its reason for the impeding strike action. Also critical on the welfare matter is the nonchalance on the new minimum wage request.

“Government has done may things injurious to workers: In most states salaries are owed, the current hardship orchestrated by the economic recession as well as the dilly-dally by government at the centre over a new minimum wage of N56,000. These are the issues we submitted in our memoranda and also pressing government for a new minimum wage but it is unserious about it instead it is working with new factions,” a top labour official told this paper.

But the official, who is an Executive of the union, noted they are going ahead with the minimum wage issue of which government must address.

“If in 2017, government does not address the new minimum wage, then it should be set for a total show down, an industrial action,” he warned.

Commenting on the issue, NLC Secretary General, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, admitted that organised labour will embark on a strike action in the New Year, if the federal government does not address the new minimum wage problem.

The NLC scribe, who spoke live on a Silverbird Television programme Tuesday, December 20th last year, stated that government has responded irresponsibly to its demand for a new wage.

He explained that memoranda on the new minimum wage and other welfare issues arising from the failed fuel hike strike were submitted to government but that it was dilly dallying with it while also trying to create a new centre to weaken organised labour.

Eson disclosed that it was the Ajaero and Achese’s factions that agreed from behind the scene to decisions made by government palliative committee during the last strike in order to destabilise the NLC and TUC.

According to him, the interest of workers were better served under one unified centre, adding that efforts have been made even by past labour leaders to settle the rift between the factions but without success.

He also accused the government of double standard, noting that its motive is that “if they (government) can’t get at Labour leadership, let’s create a new centre.”

Meanwhile, on December 17th, 2016 in Lagos, a new labour centre, the United Labour Congress, ULC was unveiled with Joe Ajaero as the President, Mr. Igwe Achese as Deputy President and Kelly Ogbaloi as Vice President.

The new ULC relies on the Trade Union Amendment Act of 2005, by the Federal Government headed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to come into existence.

Though 18 industrial unions were physically present at the unveiling, the new labour centre is said to have more than 25 industrial unions and senior staff associations affiliated to it.

Among the affiliates listed are  Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals, ANAP Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, CANMPSSAN, Fitters Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, FISSAN, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Employees, NUBIFIE, Nigeria Union on Electricity Employees, NUEE,  National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, National Union of Shop and Distributive Employees, NUSDE, Nigeria Union of Mine Workers, NUMW, Nigeria Union of Railway Men, NUR, Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria, SEWUN,  Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ISSSAN, Metal Products Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, MEPROSSAN, Precision, Electrical and Related Equipment Senior Staff Association, PRESESSA, and  Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions, ASURI.

Before the unveiling of ULC, Mr. Joe Ajaero had told the delegates that they were not contesting with anybody or faction, but “we are doing this because of the exigency of the moment.”

In his inaugural speech ULC President, Ajaero promised to work with other progressive groups and organisations including unions to better the lots of workers and ordinary Nigerians, saying “we are ready to fight for the interest of workers in line with the constitution of Nigeria.”

Collaborating, Igwe Achese said: “It is sad that workers have been abandoned to suffer without salaries across the states including the Federal Government. You ask where is labour when all these are going on and you will not get a convincing answer. I believe we have a responsibility to these workers. That is why we are here to celebrate the beginning of a new hope for workers.”
Sourced from Nigerian Pilot.

Source: News Express

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