Organised Labour yesterday spurned the threat of mass sack of workers by governors if they are to pay N30,000 as minimum wage.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), in a statement by its president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said workers are not moved by the threat to sack them as such threat is not new in the struggle for the review of the national minimum wage in Nigeria.
He asserted that the current sack threat by the chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and governor of Zamfara State, Abdullaziz Yari, cannot be used to intimidate labour, adding that the consequences of retrenching workers are too grievous for any political office holder truly elected by the people to contemplate.
Organised Labour also declared that the Governors’ Forum was not a constitutionally recognised body and had no place in the collective bargaining process, which decides on a new minimum wage.
It said the Nigerian Constitution (as amended) recognises individual states in the Collective Bargaining Process, not Nigeria Governors’ Forum, noting that states, like the other social partners, had already defended their positions during negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee vis-à-vis counter proposals submitted.
It further warned anti-Labour government not to hide behind the NGF to deny them of their just wages, even as it vowed to vote out governors who oppose the new minimum wage.
The NLC president reiterated that the new national minimum wage of N30,000 was a product of intense and robust negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee that lasted for one year, between November 2017 to November 2018.
He explained that at the Tripartite Committee, state governments were represented by six states, one state from each of the six geo-political zones of Nigeria.
Besides, he said a letter was sent by the committee to every state to send in their memorandum as their input to the national minimum wage negotiations, to which 21 states responded by sending memoranda with figures.
Wabba said from the memoranda submitted to the Tripartite Committee by state governments, there were proposals by some states to even pay higher than the negotiated national minimum wage of N30,000.
The NLC boss said the process of negotiation by the tripartite social partners had ended and a new national minimum wage of N30,000 had been agreed upon by government, labour and employers in the private sector.
He said, “We propose that since a few political office holders are bent on enslaving Nigerian workers with peanuts mislabelled as salaries, we urge such elected public officials to subject their humungous salaries and allowances, reputed to be among the highest in the world, pro rata with the minimum wage they want to force down the throats of Nigerian workers. We, therefore, urge each state governor to go to their respective states and inform workers and their families their individual positions on the new national minimum wage of N30,000;
“Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari should desist from using the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to seek political relevance. His tactics of blackmail against workers is already timeworn and the stench is already offensive
“The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Organised Labour urge workers to remain steadfast and firm on our rights to decent wages and improved living conditions. To the oppressors, we have only one answer for you – we will never sleep on our rights!
“We hereby reiterate our directive to Nigerian workers to vote out any politician or political party that refuses to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000. We shall continue to consolidate our efforts to strengthen already existing platforms and structures to give teeth to our resolve to vote out anti-labour governors and politicians in the forthcoming 2019 general election.”
On his part, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) president, Bobboi Kaigama, said labour was unperturbed by the threat of the governors.
He said, “The minimum wage has not been put in place, when it is put in place, we will do the ‘roforofo fight’ with them. For now, we have said it over and over – any governor that can’t pay minimum wage should resign. Because we know they have the IGR, they have the potential to pay their workers salaries, not to talk of the federal allocations they get.
“They have the ability to pay; they are just not interested to pay. We have said it over and over; every governor should answer his father’s name. We have our PVCs, and our members will fully mobilise. We want them to identify themselves, those that can’t pay should come out and say so and not to come under any cover of Governors’ Forum. Tell your state workers that you cannot pay, and let them decide your fate.
“Governors’ Forum has no place in the constitution of Nigeria. It’s just a pressure group. What we are saying is, states should come out individually and say I’ll not be able to pay – because we have also discussed with other state governors who are willing to pay any figure that the National Assembly comes out with. So we are saying no state governor should take cover under Governors’ Forum; let them identify themselves and we will know how to address them.”