20181025

Minimum Wage: We Are Not Slaves – NLC Replies Govt.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has accused the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige of feeding the public with half truth about the work of the tripartite Committee on the new National minimum wage and misleading the government into gagging workers and forcing them to become slaves rather than workers.

Rising from its National Executive Council meeting in Abuja, the NLC said workers in the country will not be intimidated by any threat of no work no pay.

Labour pointed out that the government was trying to return the country to the dark days of the Abacha military regime and force workers not to protest against inhuman treatment by the government through non payment of salaries.

The Congress accused the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige of trying to twist the truth by misinforming the public that the meeting of October 4 and 5, 2018 was inconclusive as the members of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage did not agree on a figure.

They NEC which is the highest decision making organ of the NLC said the recent antics of Minister of Labour and Employment was anti-labour and anti-workers especially with regards to the Minister’s utterances which the it deemed as an act of bad faith intended to scuttle the work of the Committee on the new national minimum wage.

It rejected and condemned the Minister’s claims in the media that negotiations are still ongoing on the issue of a New National Minimum Wage which implementation is already long overdue, adding that it was disturbed by government’s new offensive against Organized Labour and workers’ rights as contained in a report submitted to the Federal Executive Council by the Minister of Labour and Employment and on which Government has issued a White Paper.

According to the NLC NEC, this latest posture by government as calculated to cow workers into submission as well as stop Labour from protesting against Government’s foot dragging on the new national minimum wage and an assault on workers with the “no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act;

The communique signed by the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson argued that fixing of tenure for workers holding union executive positions in contravention of the provisions of ILO Convention 87; and while the prohibition or exclusion of non-card carrying members of trade unions from leading or being part of negotiation delegations of trade unions reminiscent of the Abacha military era.

It resolved to “organize a national day of mobilization and sensitization rallies for all workers to show their outrage and mourning in the 36 states of the federation and FCT on Tuesday, 30th October, 2018. The day will also be used to educate and sensitize Nigerians on the horrendous plight of workers and pensioners, the insensitivity and duplicity of Government on labour issues, and to protest the proposed obnoxious policies of government against Organized Labour;

‘To hold joint organ meetings of the Central Working Committees (CWCs) of all the Labour Centres on November 2, 2018 for final preparations for a full engagement with Government on the national minimum wage and to commence an indefinite national strike and industrial actions from November 6, 2018; except government accepts and commences the process of perfecting the payment of N30,000 as the negotiated and compromise new national minimum wage before that date."

Labour asked Nigerians to start stocking food and other necessities of life as workers will ensure a total shutdown of the country, while condemning “government for its design/plan to clamp down on Labour via selective and erroneous invocation of the ‘no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act, noting that the right to strike is both a human and trade union right and cannot be abridged as it is what distinguishes a worker from a slave; there is nothing new about this clause as it has been in our statutes for over forty years;

“The NEC-in-session advised the government to look at the log in its eyes before picking out the speck in other people’s eyes. The NEC also demanded from government to uphold the principles of the rule of law, fairness, equity and justice by invoking “no pay, no work”;
The Congress maintained that “the threat of no work… no pay will not deter it from embarking on strike when necessary as it has always complied with legal requirements precedent and will always comply with those requirements. 

The NEC-in-session urges Nigerian workers to disregard government’s directive on “no work, no pay” because workers are already being impoverished and being owed arrears of salaries.