Buhari woos workers as Edo okays N25,000 minimum wage
President cautions against strikes to foster economic growth
For a fast improvement of the country’s economic fortunes, workers were yesterday urged to partner the Federal Government. The appeal came from President Muhammadu Buhari during this year’s May Day rally in Abuja.
And as an indication of the possibility of improved welfare for workers in the country despite the economic crisis, Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole yesterday announced the increase of the minimum wage in the state from N18, 000 to N25, 000 with immediate effect.
Represented by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, Buhari urged workers to ensure that industrial actions are brought to the barest minimum so as to create the needed conducive environment for businesses to grow.
According to the president, the economic situation in the country needs prompt attention and sought cooperation and understanding from the workers to ensure that the situation is resolved.
He said: “The need to ensure a conducive atmosphere devoid of incessant industrial actions become paramount to ensure no loss of man-hours and accordingly promote high productivity, which is perquisite for sustainable development based on increased investments, creation of jobs as well as protection of jobs.”
President Buhari had earlier through his Twitter handle, felicitated with the workers and gave assurances that the sacrifices they are making in these difficult economic times will not be in vain.
He also reiterated his commitment to his vision of a Nigeria where honest labour yields fruit, and illicit wealth loses its allure.
In his solidarity message at the rally, Buhari urged unions to move from adversarial trade unionism to developmental unionism.
This according to him will guarantee the continued expansion of the socio-economic frontiers of the country, thus making them drivers of job creation and infrastructural development, increased national productivity and improved standard of living.
In his speech, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba lamented the negative impact of unemployment on the Nigerian society.
He identified unemployment crisis in the country as a reflection of the wider national economic crisis, adding that the NLC had consistently pointed out that there was hardly any household in Nigeria without at least two or more “unemployed persons who have graduated from various tiers of our educational system, looking for job placement for upward of three to five years.”
The President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bobboi Bala Kaigama, said workers were worried that the 2016 national budget “upon which the government is supposed to run” is yet to become law, pointing out that “we are already in the second quarter of 2016. How much longer shall it take before we have a budget in operation?”
He told the audience that the country needs massive infrastructural transformation to revive the economy. “Unfortunately the massive theft of our oil, the scandalous incidence of money laundering, over-invoicing and double-invoicing of contracts, dumping of foreign goods, budget alterations, and politics of acrimony, among others, tend to frustrate that prospect,” he said.
Earlier on, Ngige had told participants at a workshop on the annual ‘World Day For Safety and Health at Work’, organised by the Lagos State chapter of the National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria, that all employers should collaborate with government in the development and implementation of stress prevention programmes at workplaces.
Ngige who was represented by the Zonal Director, South West, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr. Ifeoma Anyanwutaku said: “With the focus of attention of this year’s commemoration, government calls for the active participation and collaboration of all stakeholders in the development and implementation of stress prevention programmes.
“Employers should assess the workplace for risk of stress for its effective management and control. The national policy on occupation, safety and health stipulates the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of all workers.”
In his goodwill message to Nigerian workers, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, urged them to be more committed in their service to the nation especially at this time of economic crisis.
He said the growth of the economy and overall development of the country depends on how much support workers give to government’s policies, programmes and projects.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, to mark the May Day celebrations, Saraki expressed his appreciation and commended Nigerian workers and the organised labour movement in the country for their contributions to the nation’s economic growth and overall development.
He said from the pre-independence era till now, the labour movement has provided the backbone for the survival of the country.
He also lauded their resilience and support for the change movement that brought in the All Progressives Congress (APC) government led by President Buhari to power at the federal level.
He reiterated his promise that the Senate will continue to partner the leadership of the organized labour in the country in addressing issues of national importance just as it did during the 2016 budget process and when the distribution companies increased the electricity tariff rate.
He said: “No doubt we are not in the best of times as a nation, but with cooperation, dedication and perseverance we can turn our economy around for good and the contribution of every Nigerian worker is key to the realisation of this dream.
“This is why I urge you to remain steadfast and faithful to the efforts being made by the present administration to revive the economy and put Nigeria on the path of growth for the benefit of all Nigerians.”
He also prayed that the economic recovery programmes of President Buhari would soon bring prosperity to all workers in particular and Nigerians in general.
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, also commended the NLC and other labour unions for their sacrifices, maturity, partnership and understanding in the conduct of labour relations .
Dogara who noted that the International Workers’ Day was borne out of the struggle for improved workers’ rights and better working conditions said that workers are the lifeblood of every nation, and a well-trained and motivated workforce is vital to the goal of a vibrant and productive economy.
“A modern, knowledgeable and effective workforce is at the heart of the legislative agenda of the 8th House of Representatives. Today, we honour those silent heroes who brave tough conditions to deliver their best.
“From our teachers to our doctors to our civil servants, to our farmers and our self-employed youths and women, who eke out a living despite the harsh economic conditions of today, for their sake, we shall do all in our power and employ the necessary legislative tools to make a difference in their lives,” he said.
Oshiomhole also promised prompt payment of outstanding salary arrears to the staff of local government councils in the state. Oshiomhole who made the announcement yesterday at the grand finale of activities to mark the 2016 Workers Day said that plans had also been concluded to pay staff of Egor Local Government Council who were being owed 13 months’ salary arrears within the next two weeks.
Explaining why the council was omitted from the bailout to local government councils in 2015, he gave the assurance that the Edo government had been meeting with the Central Bank of Nigeria and that within the next two weeks, the funds would be released and staff of the council would be paid in full.
Earlier, the State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Orhue Marshall, appealed to government to enlist workers in the state in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
According to him, this would enable them to have access to quick and cheap medical facilities, like their colleagues in the Federal Public Service.