Organised labour has implored workers across the country to mobilise for prolonged strike by January 8 should the federal government fail do the needful.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, who made labour’s position known, urged federal government to urgently transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage to the National Assembly.
In his New Year Message released in Abuja yesterday Wabba pledged commitment to workers welfare, saying 2018 was one of the most traumatic years for workers, especially given the failure of government to enact and implement the new national minimum wage of N30,000.
He said, “This is in spite of the unimpeachable tripartite process leading to the agreement by the social partners on the new national minimum wage. It is unfortunate that the federal government is yet to transmit to the National Assembly an executive bill for the enactment of N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.
“Government’s dilly-dallying on the issue has strained Government-Labour relations with a potential for a major national strike which could just be days away. “Accordingly, we would use this opportunity to appeal to the Government to do the needful by urgently transmitting the bill on the new national minimum wage to the National Assembly.
We also would like to use this same opportunity to urge workers to fully mobilise for a prolonged national strike and enforce their right,” he said. Explaining that strike became the inevitable last option for labour, the NLC president called on all Nigerians and businesses to understand and support it.
He, however, assured workers that their labour, patience and diligence would not be in vain. Wabba said the NLC leadership remains committed to giving all that it takes to ensure that workers get just and fair wages in a decent work environment appropriate to their well-being.
He added that the NLC leadership is similarly committed to ensuring there is social protection for workers. He continued: “The new year presents great opportunities for workers, pensioners, civil society allies and their friends and families to put their numbers to good use. This is by voting out, not on the basis of tribe or religion but purely policy, any candidate that cannot serve their interest.
“In the year that is ahead of us, the NLC remains unequivocally committed to the national and workers’ goals which include the campaign for industrialisation, against selective enforcement of “No Work, No Pay” policy of government, among others.
“We will work assiduously to promote and advocate for the removal of all barriers to industrialisation, growth and productivity. We should be able to build a country where we produce what we consume.
“We cannot continue to export precious jobs away to other countries through successive poor policy choices of government and expect to change our unfortunate status as the poverty capital of the world”.
The labour leader also alleged that the use of the “No Work, No Pay” policy by government is aimed at hounding and victimising workers. Wabba said the NLC would continue to resist such unjust, draconian and insensitive policy, just as he insisted that workers’ salaries, pension and gratuity must be paid.
He added: “In furtherance to this, the Nigeria Labour Congress will intensify the struggle for regular, predictable and appropriate payment of salaries, pension and gratuity. “We will continue to insist on accountability. The NLC will continue to promote worker-education and mobilisation through Congress education programmes and other union training programmes.
“These activities will be religiously held with the objective of positive impact on workers. Therefore, we urge government at all levels to consider workers as assets and partners in development rather than liabilities”.
He stressed that the NLC would continue to insist that the elections are clean and that the congress’ focus is particularly on the 2019 general elections. Wabba also said the NLC would continue to demand that both the election umpire and political actors play by the rules of the game. He stated:
“This is by shunning violence, election malpractices, vote buying, and manipulation of election rules and politics of bitterness. We will also deepen our campaign for good governance and fight against corruption in the same manner that we sustained the campaign for tax justice and illicit financial flows.
“We also demand that the recovered loot be invested transparently for the benefit of all Nigerians. We say no to the wanton killings under any guise in our country. It also shows a dearth of social justice and the reign of abject poverty.
This is a serious setback to the fight against terrorism in our dear country. We wish to remind our political leaders that the security and welfare of the people must be the chief priority of any government’s policy and programmes”. He however, reiterated NLC’s resolve to continue to push for the prioritisation of the welfare, security and wellbeing of all Nigerians, especially workers of all categories. edge.