The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Friday said workers in the country would resist any attempt by government to review downwards the current N18,000 national minimum wage.
NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this at a mass rally in Abuja as part of activities to mark the 2015 Africa Industrialisation Day Celebration.
The 2015 Africa Industrialisation Day had the theme: “Eradicating Smuggling, Meeting the Financial and Energy Needs of Local Industries.”
NAN recalls that the state governors, rising from a meeting in Abuja early this week, said that the state treasuries could no longer sustain the N18,000 minimum wage. The governors attributed their stance to the significant drop in the federal allocations as a result of drop in the price of oil.
Wabba said that the move by the governors would be massively resisted by the labour.
He said that the leadership of the congress would not hesitate to mobilise workers for industrial action should the need arose.
“Nigerian workers will reject the move by the governors to slash the minimum wage instead of upward review of the minimum wage which was last done five years ago.
“We will put them on notice that if any attempt is made to slash the minimum wage, we will march to the streets to register our disagreement.
“The obvious problem is for them to reduce the cost of governance. They should reduce security votes, entourage and aides.
“Government officials are supposed to go with two vehicles as the case in developed countries.
“So, workers should not be seen as the problem; workers should be seen as the solution to our challenges in the system,” he said.
The NLC President said workers were assets in any economy as they generated wealth that moved the economy in any country. Wabba said the minimum wage was not allocation as it was negotiated through a tripartite system and was a product of law.
He said that no single party out of the tripartite system would be able to review the minimum wage without the input of the others.
“Therefore, we are putting them on notice that workers will not succumb to any pressure to actually eliminate the gains they have made in respect to having the minimum wage.
“In fact, the minimum wage is due for review despite the challenges in the economy.
“Therefore, we are going to make a formal demand immediately.”
Wabba called on the state governors to address the issue of ghost workers and other associated issues.
“Let us do what is right: if you compare Nigerian worker’s salary with that of elsewhere in the world, we are the lowest. N18, 000 will not be accepted if we are to address the issue of corruption in the country,” he said.
Rep. Peter Akapason, Chairman, Committee on Civil Society Organisation and Development Partners of the House of Representatives, however, assured workers that the Minimum Wage Act would be implemented.
Akapason said the Act was a law duly enacted by the National Assembly.
“However, the message is clear that government will look at other means to generate resources to be able to fund the economy and pay the minimum wage. We want to assure you that the law is our own law and we will continue to stand by it,” he said.
Mr Ezenwa Onyewuchi, Sen. Committee Chairman, Labour, Employment and Productivity, said that industrialisation held the key to diversification of the Nigerian economy.
“I believed it holds the key to job creation. For us here, it is in line with our legislative agenda and I think the emphasises on agriculture and solid minerals should be part of the industrialisation strategy.”