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Again, government team meets labour over new minimum wage


Peter Ozo-Eson

•NLC says January 8 for rallies, not strike
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are billed to meet a Federal Government team led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, in Abuja tomorrow over the new minimum wage.

The General Secretary of NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson told The Guardian yesterday in Abuja that the organised labour would attend tomorrow’s meeting. He also said labour had not decided to stage a nationwide strike, but rallies and protests across the 36 states and Abuja next week Tuesday.

“We will attend the Friday meeting but we are no more interested in talking. This is the time for action on the part of government. No date has been agreed on a nationwide strike. What we are doing next week Tuesday is national rallies and protests slated to take place in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja. We will announce a date for strike if that becomes necessary.”

Ozo-Eson urged governors who claim they are not able to pay the N30, 000 negotiated wage to vacate office, saying “non-implementation of the minimum wage law is an impeachable offence because it is a violation of the Nigerian constitution. National minimum wage is prescribed by the Nigerian constitution.”

According to him, “What the national minimum wage says is that there is a level below which all employers cannot pay. That is what labour is saying. Nobody is saying that those who can pay above N30, 000 cannot do that, but there must be national floor. Until the constitution is amended, any elected officer who denigrates that aspect of the constitution is in violation of the constitution and should be impeached.”

The NLC scribe said the government should be held accountable if the next month’s general election is threatened by the struggle for a new wage. “We are not out to truncate the elections. We did not start the struggle last month. We started the struggle for a new minimum wage more than two years ago. So, if the government has dragged its feet for this long, labour cannot be blackmailed using that argument. Those who delayed the process should be held accountable.”

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