Labour uneasy over President Buhari’s ‘tacit’ support for wage slash

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The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed deep concerns over what it termed as tacit support being given by President Muhammadu Buhari to state governors, on their plan to slash the National Minimum Wage from N18,000.

Daily Times reports that Labour Unions in the country are in final stages of preparing a request for the upward review of the minimum wage, while on the other hand, most state governors are calling for its reduction based on current grim economic realities.

According to a statement issued by President of the Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, reviewing the activities of the outgoing year: “Instead of using our current economic reality as a basis for deep reflection on how to revive and rebuild our economy, our political elite have instead chosen to engage Nigeria workers in battle. This is symbolised in recent threats by the Nigerian Governors Forum to abandon the payment of the N18, 000 national minimum wage which was enacted into law in 2011, or in the alternative sack workers to join the army of the unemployed.

“It was therefore discomfiting that President Muhammadu Buhari appears to have given tacit support to the governors’ gambit, in the course of his maiden presidential media chat on December 30, 2015. Echoing the claim that states might not have the capacity to (continue to) pay a mere N18, 000 as minimum wage. For us in Congress, the position of the governors supported by the views of the Mr. President cannot be empirically defended.

“The working people and the rest of the poor mass of our people are entering the New Year against the backdrop of these uncertainties and other challenges. Given the massive support Nigerians gave President Buhari as a symbol and icon of change, they expectedly harbour tremendous expectations that his government will deliver on a number of areas and provide succour that has for decades eluded them.

Ayuba noted that there is no state of the federation that cannot pay much more than N18, 000 as minimum wage if corruption and extravagance on the part of the public office holders are stamped out, stressing that if people are at the centre of states’ policies, which is of the essence for ensuring development, the focus should be on economic empowerment of the working people.

The Congress lamented that certain political and judicial office holders who are far less than 18,000 persons are earning an astonishing N1.126 trillion annually, pointing out that it is unfortunate that the National Assembly have refused to reduce their allowances as a way of reducing the cost of governance.

 

“One of the legacies of the misrule of the preceding years is the incidence of irregular and non-payment of payments of our retired civil servants and senior citizens. While salaries were been owed for up to nine months, the situation of the pensioners were worse as many states were in arrears of pension payment for between 12 months or more.

 

“This sorry situation is against the background of virtually all recent past and serving governors awarding themselves scandalous and end of tenure benefits while members of the legislature immorally awarding themselves outrageous retirement benefits running into hundreds of millions of naira for serving their states, some for just a tenure of four years,” Comrade Ayuba said.

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