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NLC rejects planned reduction in salaries of workers

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Ayuba Wabba

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected Federal Government’s plan of downward review of salaries and emoluments of workers.

President of Congress, Ayuba Wabba, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, decried the statement credited to Minister of Finance and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, that the Federal Government was working to reduce the high cost of governance by cutting down on the salaries of Nigerian workers.

Labour was also irked by the minister’s directive to National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to immediately review the salaries of civil servants as well as the number of federal agencies in the country.

NLC stated that it was almost unthinkable that the government would be contemplating unilaterally slashing salaries of Nigerian workers at this time.

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“The question to ask is: which salary is the government planning to slash? It certainly cannot be the meagre national minimum wage of N30000, which, right now, cannot even buy a bag of rice! The proposed slash in salaries is certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries that some callous state governors are still dragging their feet to pay!” Wabba said.

NLC observed that the devaluation of the Naira and the rising inflation have put Nigerian workers’ lives at risk, which seems not grave enough to bother the government across board.

“It is public knowledge that the multiple devaluations of the Naira in a very short time and the prevailing high inflation rate in Nigeria have knocked out the salaries earned by Nigerian workers across the board. The workers are only surviving by hair’s breadth. Indeed, Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs. It is, therefore, extremely horrendous for a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pronounce salary slash for Nigerian workers at this time,” the statement said.

Labour said the call for salary slash by Ahmed “is tantamount to a mass suicide” wish for Nigerian workers, adding: “It is most uncharitable, most insensitive, most dehumanising and most barbaric. Nigerian workers demand an immediate retraction and apology by the Minister of Finance.”

NLC urged President Muhammadu Buhari to caution the minister now before she sets Nigeria on fire with her “careless” statements.

“If there is any salary that needs serious slashing, it is the humungous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political office holders in Nigeria who do very little but collect so much!

“Workers generate surplus value and revenue for the government. We do not constitute any unnecessary cost or burden to governance! It is also important to make the point that salaries are products of contracts governed by laws. They cannot be unilaterally adjusted,” Wabba insisted.

NLC submitted that while many countries of the world are increasing the salaries of their workforce, extending social security coverage for their citizens and providing all forms of palliatives to help their people through the terrible socio-economic dislocations occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be completely absurd for the Nigerian government to be thinking of salary slash.

The congress added that “the proposal is not only at great odds with global best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also in violation of relevant International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and declarations on wages and decent work.”

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