The Organised Labour, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), on Thursday, warned that the consequences of workers retrenchment or outright sack are too grievous for the state governors or any political office holder elected by the people.
Reacting the position and statement by the Chairman of the Governors Forum, Gov. Abdulaziz Yari, of Zamfara State, both the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and the TUC President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, said the body, known as the Governors Forum is illegal and has no place in the laws and Constitution of the country.
To this end, they told the 36 states governors; which the laws and Nigeria Constitution recognized; to individually go into their states and declared in the presence of their people that they cannot pay their workers N30,000, an equivalent of $83 per month.
Comrade Wabba said in a statement issued on Thursday that the threat to sack workers is not new in the struggle for review of the national minimum wage in Nigeria; and warned that its consequences would be very grave for any governor and political office holder, truly elected, to contemplate.
Therefore, the NLC president emphasized that the Nigerian workers cannot be intimidated by
the current threat by the Governor of Zamfara State.
Wabba said the attention of the NLC, Organized Labour, the Working Class, Pensioners and their families have been drawn to the statement by Gov. Yari; purportedly for the Nigeria Governors Forum, one year after the inauguration of the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee.
He described the statement as an after-thought and has no place in the collective bargaining process.
The NLC president said: “We understand that Mr Yari Abdulaziz’s position is at the instance of a few anti-worker governors. We are not in any doubt that many worker-friendly governors are ready to pay even higher than the negotiated N30,000 new national minimum wage.
“In view of the foregoing, Organized Labour wishes to firmly reiterate its stand as follows: The process of negotiation by the tripartite social partners for a new National Minimum Wage has ended and a new National Minimum Wage of N30,000 has been agreed upon by the government, labour and employers in the private sector.
“The 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) recognizes individual states in the Collective Bargaining Process, not Nigeria Governors Forum. The states, like the other social partners, have already defended their positions during negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee vis-à-vis counter proposals;
“We propose that since a few political office holders are bent on enslaving Nigerian workers with peanuts mislabeled as salaries, we urge such elected public officials to subject their humongous salaries and allowances, reputed to be among the highest in the world, pro rata with the minimum wage they want to force down the throats of Nigerian workers.
“We, therefore, urge each State Governor to go to their respective states and inform workers and their families their individual position on the new national minimum wage of N30,000.
“Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari should desist from using the platform of the Nigeria Governors Forum to seek political relevance. His tactics of blackmail against workers are already timeworn and the stench is already offensive.”
The leadership of the NLC and Organised Labour has, therefore, urged workers to remain steadfast and firm on their rights to decent wages and improved living conditions.
The congress called on the workers and their family to work against any governor or political party that refused to pay N30,000.
Wabba said: “To the oppressors, we have only one answer for you – We will never sleep on our rights! We hereby reiterate our directive to Nigerian workers to vote out any politician or political party that refuses to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000.
“We shall continue to consolidate our efforts to strengthen already existing platforms and structures to give teeth to our resolve to vote out anti-labour governors and politicians in the forthcoming 2019 general election.”
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to be wary of some people, especially in the Nigeria Governors Forum because; “they are wont, for selfish and personal reasons, to present him as an anti-worker President and by extension orchestrate anti-Buhari sentiments in the populace.”
“In light of this, we call on him to speedily present to the National Assembly the bill on the National Minimum Wage for appropriate amendment and implementation,” he added.
Also, an interview with Nigerian Tribune, the President of TUC, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, said the Organized Labour is already mobilizing the workers and their families for the fight ahead, saying that when the time comes, Labour would do the “roforofo” fight.
Apart from using the normal Labour action, which includes protests and strikes, the TUC president stated that Labour would ensure that those governors and any political party that are against the N30,000 minimum wage are voted out.
Kaigama said: “The minimum wage has not been put in place when it is put in place, we will do the ‘roforofo’ fight with them. For now, we have said it over and over, any governor that can’t pay minimum wage should resign; because we know they have the IGR, they have the potential to pay their workers salaries, not to talk of federal allocation.
“They have the ability to pay, they are just not interested to pay. We have said it over and over, every governor should answer their father’s name. We have our PVCs, and our members will be fully mobilized. We want them to identify themselves, those that can’t pay and not to come under any cover of Governors Forum.
” Go and tell your state workers that you cannot pay, and let them decide your fate. Governors Forum has no place in the constitution of Nigeria. It’s just a pressure group. What we are saying is that states should come out individually and say so so state, I’ll not be able to pay.
“We have also discussed with other state governors who are willing to pay any figure that the National Assembly comes out with. So, we are saying no state governor should take cover under Governors Forum, let them identify themselves and we will know how to address them.”
On the statement by Gov. Yari that private jet is not a luxury, he said: “How can going around with private jet not be a luxury. Don’t you have commercial airlines that you take? When you go to the US or Europe, do those people take private jets around?
“Some of them have bills running into billions of Naira to service the private jets. We are aware of one state that spent N10 billion in a year to charter private jets. Ask any of them, before they became governors, were they going about on private jets? They are just opportunists.”
On workers’ reaction apart from mobilizing them to vote against such governors and party, the TUC president said: “That is why we want them to identify themselves. The governor of Zamfara state should say Zamfara State cannot afford and not say Governors Forum cannot afford because most of the governors have said they can pay. So, he should not hide under the cover of Governors Forum, he should say Zamfara State, so we know how to mobilise Zamfara workers.”
In his own reaction the Secretary-General of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade Bashir Lawal said that Gov. Yard lied about his statement that the position of the governors were not considered by the Tripartite Committee before the report and N30,000 agreed was submitted to President Buhari.
He said: “Our position is not difficult. As far as we are concerned, every position canvassed throughout the exercised were considered. 21 of them submitted position papers, 12 of them quoted figures, about five of them said whatever the committee recommended they would pay. So, where they now come out to say their position was not considered. I don’t know. It means they are not serious people.”
On the threat to sack, Comrade Lawal said: “We understand that some of them are threatening that they would sack if they are forced to pay; but we are saying also that before it gets to the stage where they will talk of sacking, we would move them out of the government house through our PVCs. That is what we are going to do, we would vote them out, we have taken that decision. Even, before the election, there will be a series of Labour actions from us if they refused.”
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