The Nigeria Labour Congress has called on the ruling All Progressives Congress and opposition Peoples Democratic Party to call their governors to order for some of the governors’ insistence on reducing the minimum wage.
A statement by the president of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the governors’ insistence on either abolishing the N18,000 minimum wage or retrench workers was invitation to crisis.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) wishes to categorically affirm that the path our governors are heading can only lead to one outcome: a head-on collision with Nigerian workers and Nigerian people!
“In apparent reaction to our statement that the threat by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to jettison the N18, 000 National Minimum Wage would amount to a declaration of war against the working people of our country, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, and chairman of the Governors’ Forum, has restated the determination of himself and his colleagues to go ahead with the reduction of the national minimum wage or in the alternative embark on massive retrenchment of workers.
“By his reaction, the congress is convinced that Governor Yari is still holding on to his earlier argument that due to the fall in the price of crude oil at the international market, state governments are no longer in the position to pay the legal minimum wage to their workers.
“In case Governor Yari and his colleagues, most of whom are fresh in their positions, might not be aware, the principle behind minimum wage is that it is the minimum salary a worker is envisaged to earn to sustain himself or herself and his or her legal or legitimate dependents, over a daily or monthly period.
“In our context, a worker’s legitimate dependents include the worker’s spouse and four children.
“In simple arithmetic terms, N18, 000 divided by six (6) persons over 30 days amounts to N100 per day per person, or N600 for the six (6) persons per day. This is the amount that is expected to feed six people daily.
“Then they have to find some amount from the same wage for accommodation, healthcare, transportation, education, and maybe, some change for clothing to cater for basic necessities of daily existence.
“For us in the NLC, governors/states are going away with N500 million, N50 million or less; from the monthly federation account sharing not on account of the fall in the price of crude oil alone, but because of the earlier choice(s) the governors made in recklessly mortgaging their states’ revenue through uneconomical borrowing from commercial banks.
“In addition, our governors continue to engage in practices that are completely against the norms and standards of governance in civilised societies, especially those whose economies are under stress such as profligate lifestyles; unnecessarily bloated political aides, awarding contracts that are clearly several notches above prevailing market costs, dedication of hundreds of millions of annual budget to security votes which are unfortunately more often than not used as slush funds, while expending several millions of naira on their travels and tours that yield literally nothing in return.
“This is apart from the mindless pensions running into several millions of naira that many former governors had, at the point of their exit from power, dishonestly awarded themselves, and which no successor governor has mustered the courage to revoke since this immoral practice began in 2007 or thereabout.
“A political elite that cannot fund minimum wages which is clearly not one that can sustain a typical minimum wage earner and his legal dependents, has one of its members going ahead to put twenty billion naira to construct a supposed cargo airport in a state capital that is less than 200kms from the federal capital, and where the most viable transportation system is okada.
“Yet this state is not known to manufacture or produce anything currently which needs urgent airlifting. This underscores the misplaced priorities of our current political elite in the country.
“Since the swearing in of new governors on May 29, 2015, some governors decided to change the official cars of state commissioners from Peugeot 406 to Prado Jeeps. These are not actions of an elite that is conscious of the need to keep the cost of governance down as a result of lean resources due to any economic misfortune.
“The point needs restating that as long as our political elite do not find anything wrong in a local government councillor, chairman, state legislator, state governor, etc, earning uniform wages and allowances across board irrespective of the state of natural endowments of the various local governments and states, no amount of preaching or threat from any quarters will stop us from insisting on an enforceable national minimum wage.
“We commend the governors of Edo, Rivers, Jigawa and Ekiti states, and other progressive governors who have so far dissociated themselves from this insensitive and economically illogical campaign by the chairman of the Governors’ Forum, allegedly on behalf of his colleagues to discard the 2011 National Minimum Wage Act, or on the alternative throw more workers into the already saturated unemployment market.
“We call on the ruling APC government and the opposition PDP to call their governors to order as any attempt to renege on the payment of the N18, 000 National Minimum Wage or engage in mass sack of workers in the states will throw our already beleaguered country into industrial disharmony and chaos either now or as we enter the New Year in 2016!
“Lastly, all governors regardless of political coloration, took the oath of office to defend the laws and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Minimum wage Act of 2010 which legitimizes the negotiated N18,000 is part of the laws of the Federation. Nigerian workers will defend the rule of law including the Minimum Wage Law.
“By this statement, congress is putting our state councils and our industrial union affiliates at a FULL STATE OF ALERT and to commence mobilisation to ensure that we can respond speedily and promptly to any action of the governors to carry out their threat,” said the NLC president.
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