By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja-The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba has on Monday said that the Congress will vehemently resist anybody who seeks to slow down or frustrate the process of the upward review of the N18,000 Minimum wage.
Speaking at the opening ceremony to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the formation of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Wabba said that the Congress in like manner as its predecessors, will resist such people, adding that the spirit of Apena Cemetery and the compelling wisdom that guided the leaders during both Adeba and Udoji wage review will be their road map.
The Comrade President noted that poor political will to offer and implement the national minimum wage led to the negotiations and struggles of, 1981, 1991, 2000, 2005, 2011 which were won with enormous sacrifices made by the working people, including some lives lost on the streets.
According to him, “the struggles for the review of the national minimum wage since it was instituted in the 80s have been tough and rough, because of the interest of a variety of actors including government and employers of labour. Sometimes, it took threats to down tools before the tables were set for negotiations. Even when agreements are reached, as stated earlier, they were and are still not respected.
“It may suffice to also inform you that the legitimate demand for the review of the current N18, 000 minimum wage is borne out of the current reality of higher cost of living, free fall of the naira, and high cost of goods and services.
“Nigeria, being a member state of the ILO, must be seen to respect ILO instruments on National Minimum Wage fixing and implementation, which are, Convention No 131 of 1970 and Convention No. 172 of 1992” he said.
He further noted that the NLC is prepared to deal with employers, especially governors who deny workers and pensioners their salaries and pensions, saying that workers, pensioners and their families will not give them any further political support, especially their votes.
Speaking on the 40th anniversary celebration, he said that it is to acknowledge the strategic contributions of the Nigerian working people and their allies in the struggle for a better society and improved conditions of service for workers and pensioners.
“Since our formation in 1978, we believe that the NLC has lived up to its mandate as a trade union movement which is, the protection and defence of its members.
“In celebrating these achievements, we need to think of ways of reinvigorating, revitalizing and transforming the organisation to a formidable worker organization that can stand the test of time. We are committed to returning to the founding principles of internal democracy, unity, observance of trade union ethics, and internationalism” Wabba declared.
On the rate of insecurity in the country and the missing Dapchi girls, he stressed that Government and security agencies need to step up to ensure adequate security and the quick rescue or release of these girls.
On his part, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, stated that the Federal Government is working to announce a new minimum wage for the country by the third quarter of 2018.
Ngige who got mixed reaction from workers at the event, remarked that the new minimum wage is better delayed than never.
He said, “The tripartite council is a broad spectrum that contains workers and employers and we believe that whatever we are going to do there will be consensual. Today some state governments are owing even the present minimum wage of N18,000 so we have decided that the best thing is to get every body into the minimum wage committee”.
He further urged the workers not to grumble but let the government finish it’s work, adding that no body will cheat the Nigerian workers of what is rightfully theirs.
The theme of the commemoration is, “NLC Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.