Minimum Wage: Labour Threatens Nationwide Strike If Not Reviewed

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The organised labour has threatened a nationwide strike if the government fails to begin process of reviewing the workers minimum wage, saying that Nigerian workers are hungry and legitimately angry.

The National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), an affiliate body of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), issued the threat in Kaduna yesterday.

Addressing newsmen alongside NUTGTWN National President, Comrade John Adaji, General Secretary of the union and Vice President, IndustriALL Global Union, Comrade Issa Aremu called on the Federal Government to urgently constitute a committee on the review of the current national minimum wage.

The labour union equally called on NLC and TUC to make urgent case for workers’ control of the country’s pension industry, saying pension fund is workers’ capital and should not be a play-ground to reward failed politicians.

According to Comrade Aremu, “As demonstrated by workers during the May Day in Abuja, Nigeria risks national industrial crisis except governments at all levels give due attention to the critical issue of compensation of workers. Hungry workers are legitimately angry workers. Nigerian workers are not only hungry but legitimately angry.

“We commend both the Senate and the House of Representatives for their respective facilitating roles to address the current issue of national minimum wage.  However, the responsibility lies squarely with President Muhammadu Buhari ably being represented by Vice President Osinbajo.

“National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act 2011 which offers the current N18,000 was for a 5-year cycle due for review in 2015. The five-year time limit was to avoid minimum wage stagnation and attendant seemingly increases that follow. In UK minimum wage is reviewed yearly. Today it is £7.5 per hour, about N37,000 per day!

“Long before the current recession, Nigeria workers have long been in depression. With Naira devaluation and high inflation, 2010 negotiated national minimum wage of N18,000 which was about $120 in 2010 has fallen to below $50 in 2017 worsening income poverty. Nigeria cannot get out of recession with poorly paid work-force”, the labour leader said .

He opined however that, “the best way to reinflate the economy is through wage increase linked with productivity improvement and prompt payment of the existing salaries by states and local governments.

“President Buhari should therefore urgently constitute the tripartite committee on the review of the current national minimum wage within a short time-limit”, he urged.

On the pension matter, the textile union leader said, NUTGTWN as an affiliate of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and a critical stakeholder in the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) was concerned with recent developments in the pension industry, adding that, Nigeria’s pension industry risks avoidable crisis following the recent abrupt termination of the appointment of Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, former Director General of PenCom and appointment of Dikko Aliyu Abdulrahman as new Director General by President Muhammadu Buhari subject to confirmation by the Senate.

According to him, “labour observes that the termination of a tenured appointment flouts the provision of the Pension Reform Act 2014. President Buhari is an acknowledged respecter of due process as witnessed by the way he has managed to transmit delegation to Acting President Osinbajo as required by 1999 Constitution. The health of pension assets is no less important than the health of the President. The Presidency should therefore NOT casualise appointments of DG of critical pension institution like PENCOM.

“With this new development both the NLC and TUC must make urgent case for workers’ control of the country’s pension industry.  Indeed pension fund is workers’ capital and should not be a play-ground to reward failed politicians. What is at stake is the life of millions of working women and men after meritorious service to the nation”, said Aremu.