Sunday, 30 September 2018

Minimum wage: Labour may suspend strike today

There are strong indications that the Organised Labour may today (Sunday) suspend the ongoing nationwide strike over  new national minimum wage.

The strike had commenced  last Thursday after the expiration of a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to announce its figure, reconvene the meeting  of the 30- man Technical Committee on  the issue and ensure the completion of  its work ahead of  the announcement of a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
the planned suspension of the strike, that has  paralyzed critical sectors of the  economy, including the down stream sector of the oil industry, where loading and distribution of petroleum  products have been stopped, and maritime services, is a fall out of  a  meeting between labour leaders and    top government officials that lasted  several hours on Friday.

According to a  source, chief among other reasons for the planned suspension of the strike is the reconvening of the meeting of the Tripartite Committee on the minimum wage  on Thursday which the  Organised Labour had claimed was adjourned sine die by government.

Labour leaders have been assured that the meeting will not only reconvene, the Federal Government is also expected to present its figure to the meeting on Thursday.

The refusal of the Federal  Government to present its figure to the committee, whereas other social partners had presented theirs, stalled  the conclusion of the assignment of the committee.

While the private sector employers, some state governments and  the Organised Labour have all made presentations on their figures for a new national minimum wage, the Federal Government, which ought to be the driving force as a result of labour issues being on the exclusive legislative list, is yet to present its figure for the committee to work with alongside other presentations to arrive at a new national minimum wage.

One of the labour leaders, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard in confidence, yesterday, however, warned that “if  government fails to present its figure, in the Thursday meeting expected to dovetail into Friday, the Organised Labour will have no  choice than to resume a more devastating nationwide strike next week.”

Meanwhile, the National Labour Congress (NLC) said, yesterday, that the strike could be suspended if the Federal Government yielded  to workers’ demand.

Speaking when the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, paid a  visit to the Labour House in Abuja  to plead for the suspension of the strike, the National President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said  government  could  facilitate immediate suspension of the strike by doing the needful.

According to Wabba,  after the meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, at the State House on Thursday, the NLC  National Executive Council, NEC, met and communicated government’s position to all the labour organs.

But the General Secretary of  the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, an affiliate of the  NLC, Peters Adeyemi, told Sunday Vanguard  after the union’s National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Abuja that there was no will  from  government to approve a new minimum wage.

Adeyemi, who is a member of the Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee, said it was appalling that the Federal Government that inaugurated the committee had not shown any sign of seriousness, adding that the committee members will only meet with the government team when there is a proposed figure from government.

“The National Executive Council of NASU is in alignment with the Organised  Labour on the on-going strike over the inability of the Federal Government to present its figure to the committee”, he said.

“I have never seen in the history of any nation where the President of a country will inaugurate a committee and after the inauguration ceremony, everybody goes to bed. That in itself is an indictment on the part of government. It shows clearly that this government is only paying lip service to workers welfare.

“We insist that the workers that create the wealth of the nation must benefit from those wealth. It cannot be  elected officers that eat billions and, when it gets to the workers, they are paid peanuts. Arithmetic calculation today shows that N18,000 minimum wage is less than $50. This is far worse than what it was in 2011 when the present minimum wage was negotiated”.

The NASU scribe said that the NEC w

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