Minimum wage: Labour unions insist on nationwide strike Oct 16

The organised labour in the country yesterday said it has not shifted ground on its plan to embark on a nationwide strike should the government fail to meet its demands on or October 16.

The labour group, comprising Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), had rejected Federal Government’s offer to adjust the salaries of public workers on Grade Level 07 to 14 with 11 per cent consequential increase and 6.5 per cent for those on Grade Level 15 to 17.

Speaking with our correspondent in Abuja, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said labour resolved to embark on strike to draw government’s attention on the need to reconvene and end negotiations that should have been concluded a long time ago to allow workers enjoy their new wage.

While noting that labour was willing to dialogue with government, he maintained that government must see reason and holistically look at the issues raised to ensure the consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage impact on all workers across the various levels.

He said: “We had a discussion with the Joint Public Service Negotiating  Council and we thought that there should be an end to every process of social dialogue, every process of negotiation must actually have an end.

“This issue has lingered and it seems like there is no way out of it and therefore we need to draw attention that this issue must be addressed and it cannot be addressed without bringing the people to the table.

“We have said that the meeting must be reconvened towards addressing the issue to a logical end and I think that is the best way in industrial relations and that is why we had to come together as organised labour to look at the issue and say well, this is not the first time we are doing minimum wage, we have a lot of empirical data to point to what is the consequential adjustment because this issue started in1981.

“We must have a situation where this can impact all workers; we go to the same market both senior and junior workers, so these are issues that can be resolved on the table and labour is ready for dialogue to avoid the issue. A costs of goods and services have gone up, but salary has remained the same, we must see reason to look at these issues holistically and address it.”

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had said the demands raised by labour was not sustainable, adding that government may have to sack workers to be able to meet the demands laid out in the consequential adjustment for the new wage.

However, Wabba, who waved the minister’s comments aside, challenged the Federal Government to provide empirical data, facts and figures to confront workers and show its inability to sustain payment of the consequential adjustment on the new minimum wage being demanded by organised labour on behalf of workers.

“That is his position, we have had minimum wage from 1981 till date; let us interrogate the data and speak from the point of information not from the point of sentiment and lack of clear information.

“The demand is something that is a bit reasonable and I think that there is nothing out of point for workers to demand that; that is why industrial relations parley is about collective bargaining process; come with your facts and figures and we will come with our facts and figures and let the issues be addressed instead of just making statements that are incoherent and not addressing the issue.”

Also speaking, TUC General Secretary, Musa Lawal, who said government had not shown any commitment towards meeting labour’s demands, maintained that labour would not back down on proposed strike.

“We have told our oppressors that we are going to start our war on October 16. They have not done anything now, so there is nothing for us to do, come October 16, people will know whether we are serious or not. So far, nothing has come from government,” he said.

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