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Minimum Wage: Labour leaders demand fast-track of discussion

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Members of Nigeria Labour congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) protesting in Abuja. PHOTO: LADIDI LUCY ELUKPO

Ahead of the commemoration of May (Workers) Day on Monday, May 1, some labour leaders in Lagos yesterday called for the fast-tracking of discussions on the minimum wage.

Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the labour leaders said the continuous delay in discussing and recommending payment of a new minimum wage would not augur well for industrial harmony.

Secretary General, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Mr. Bashir Lawal, told NAN that reaching a quick agreement on the issue was paramount.

He stated that the delay, apart from worsening the economic well-being of Nigerians, particularly the workers, industrial peace and harmony cannot be guaranteed, adding that workers are going through economic difficulties.

He, however, expressed optimism that they would rejoice whenever discussions on the minimum wage were concluded, saying: “There is no gainsaying the fact that workers are going through very difficult times. We have made representations severally to the government on this issue.

“We are hopeful that something positive will happen to our Take-Home-Pay as soon as the Minimum Wage Negotiating Committee concludes its assignment.”

On his part, President of National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), Mr. Lateef Oyelekan, also called for the hastening of discussions.

Oyelekan stated that a review of the wage would serve as compensation to workers who have prayed ceaselessly for the quick recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He also suggested that state governments be pressurised to pay any amount that would be agreement on, saying it was regrettable that almost a year after bailout funds were released, some of the states still owed workers salary arrears of six to 10 months.

“Today, a worker with four children can no longer send them to school, feed and cater for the family needs, because his or her income (N18, 000) is inadequate,” he lamented.

Oyelekan, however, commended the Federal Government for releasing Foreign Exchange to boost production, adding that many companies were already going comatose because for lack of forex.

In Abuja, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) warned that workers were running out of patience with the Federal Government over delay in negotiation of a new wage.

Chairman of TUC, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Chapter, Mr. Ahmed Olayinka, said while speaking during an awareness rally ahead of Monday, said the workers cannot wait indefinitely for government, adding that in view of the hardship been experienced by Nigerian workers as a result of economic recession, government should fast-track the implementation of the proposed new minimum wage.

“We in the labour union and the entire Nigerian workers are losing our temper, the government must do something fast, because prices of things have skyrocketed in the market.

“The common man cannot afford the basic needs of life and workers now pay double of what they used to buy in the market,” he stated. He pledged the labour’s support for government’s anti-corruption drive of President Muhammadu Buhari and to do anything to expose corrupt officials.

Olayinka said the union had always been in support of good governance, adding that it was aware that corruption was fighting back. Also speaking, Mr. Amaechi Lawrence, Chairman FCT Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said the union embarked on a road show to sensitise Nigerians on the celebration

He urged Nigerians workers, including market women and men, to come out on Monday to celebrate workers at the Eagle Square.

Lawrence said that the NLC would continue to sensitise Nigerians against corruption, while calling on the government to quickly review workers wage, because the N18, 000.00 minimum wage was grossly inadequate.



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