Organised Labour, yesterday, fixed Tuesday,October 30, for a nationwide mass protest as part of activities to sensitise workers and other Nigerians ahead of the start of indefinite strike on November 6, over perceived government’s insincerity on a new national minimum wage.
It also accused the Federal Government of playing games with the new Minimum Wage and vowed not to negotiate again on the figures that had been agreed upon.
In a joint statement signed by Presidents of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, Ayuba Wabba, Bobboi Kaigama and Joe Ajaero, respectively, organised labour equally warned that 2019 general elections would be pay back time for government.
“Let us today remember those who deny us and let us collectively demonstrate our position at next year’s polls,” it stated.
Organised labour, as part of activities lined up to compel government to conclude all processes and announce a new minimum wage, said it would organise “a day of national outrage and mourning, which will be used to sensitize Nigerians on our plight and on the issues at stake.
“This shall take place in all states of the federation, including Abuja on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. A meeting of various organs of the unions will hold as appropriate.
“On Friday, November 2, 2018, a Joint Central Working Committee, CWC, meeting of all the labour centres in Nigeria shall hold to receive reports and make final preparations for our ultimate engagement with the Federal Government on this matter.
‘’This is the first time in the history of this nation in recent times that such meeting will take place and this goes a long way to show the seriousness with which Nigerian workers and its leadership hold this matter.
“If nothing is responsibly done by the Federal Government to meet our demands, on Monday, November 6, we shall embark on a nationwide strike to compel this government to show more sensitivity to the plight of Nigerians and the suffering that is decimating our people on daily basis.”
Minimum Wage: Labour meets Thursday for final decision
It urged Nigerians and workers not to be discouraged as it had become obvious that government never cared for its workers or the citizenry.
The statement, titled “The National Minimum Wage: We remain strong and undaunted”, read: “It has become imperative at this time that Nigerians recall the events that led to the last nationwide strike which forced the federal government to return to negotiation table that they had earlier abandoned.
‘’Nigerians should not forget the promises made by the same government, while pledging to return to the negotiation table, leading to the suspension of the strike. These are also within the context of the difficulties, the tortuous journey that have trailed the renegotiation of a new national minimum wage since the expiration of the last one in 2016.
‘’This ranges from the refusal of the government to commit to its renegotiation, even after the 16-man technical committee had concluded its work and it became necessary to set up and inaugurate a tripartite committee to commence work on a new one.
“All the foot-dragging of the federal government to allow the committee begin its work should also be remembered and the pressures that had to be brought to bear on them to allow the committee commence its work after inauguration.
‘’Every step of the way had been one pot hole or the other. All these are clearly not pointers to a party whose negotiation motives are in good faith but expressly demonstrate to all Nigerians that this party was unfortunately willing from beginning to play games on a life and death issue as a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
“Thus far, the path to a new national minimum wage has been littered with betrayals, resistance, half-truths and now almost outright sabotage. That is why it has become urgent that Nigerians are informed of the insistence of the federal government to deliberately create confusion and make the negotiations for a new national minimum wage inconclusive as usual.
“It is not true that we proposed N30,000 as the new national minimum wage. It is also not true that the committee did not agree on a figure during its last sitting. We accepted N30,000 as a compromise to demonstrate the willingness of Nigerian workers to make sacrifices towards nation building.
‘’Anything to the contrary cannot be true. Resorting to Goebbelsianism at this time of national emergency which requires men and women of integrity is rather unfortunate and cannot suddenly make the brazen falsehoods truths.
“We believe that it has become necessary for the Organised Private Sector (OPS) as represented in the Tripartite Committee to speak up on this matter. Keeping silent in the face of this apparent mischief does our nation no good. It can only help mischief, dishonesty and impunity to grow.
‘’At this time the OPS does not have any other choice but to rise to the occasion by telling Nigerians what transpired in the meeting. They should tell Nigerians whether there was a motion that was seconded on a final figure; whether there was a document signaling this agreement that had already been signed by some parties? And whether the N30,000 figure was ours or a compromise figure based on proposed scenarios?
“As far as Nigerian workers are concerned and as represented by us, we shall no longer negotiate on a figure for the new minimum wage, having reached an agreement on this during the last sitting of the tripartite committee.
‘’ We cannot continue discussing a figure that has already been agreed procedurally within the committee.
‘’What we are waiting for is for the federal government to immediately set in motion the necessary machinery for turning the agreement into a Bill for onward submission to the National Assembly, NASS, where we expect the Presidency to work together with the legislators to make it a law so that it can be implemented quickly.’’