May Day: Labour gives FG May 31 deadline on Minimum Wage

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The organised labour, yesterday, gave the Federal Government, May 31, the deadline to conclude the minimum wage negotiation or face a nationwide industrial action.

This came as President Bola Tinubu, promised that his administration was working on a new minimum and living wage to improve the welfare of workers in the country.

The organised labour during the May Day celebration at the Eagle Square, Abuja, also insisted on N615,000 minimum wage, even as it placed an 18-point demand before the government, threatening to shut down the country if the Federal Government failed to accede to their requests by May 31.

This came as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, congratulated Nigerian workers on this Year’s International Workers’ Day and charged them to resist all anti-people tendencies seeking to compromise and undermine the democratic tenets of freedom, rule of law, accountability and probity in the country.

Also, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in the 2023 general election, Mr. Peter Obi greeted Nigerian workers, saying he stands with them in solidarity for their resilience and doggedness to ensure a better Nigeria.

President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Mr Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress, TUC, counterpart, Festus Osifo, lamented the excruciating living conditions of the Nigerian masses and especially of workers in the last year.

They said: “The last minimum wage of N30,000 expired on April 18 and we should be in the regime of new minimum wage as of today. Discussions were supposed to have been concluded.

“The Federal Government through the National Assembly legislated on it. But we saw that the discussion entered voice mail because the Federal Government refused to reconvene the meeting that was adjourned.

“We think the announcement now appears mischievous because there is no agreed minimum wage that the government is announcing. For them to announce it now, is an issue we are worried about at the NLC and the TUC.”

According to the labour leaders, though robust engagement with all stakeholders has been on, labour was pressing for a two-year lifespan for the new National Minimum Wage Act, with automatic adjustments triggered by inflation surpassing 7.5 per cent.

Insist on N615,000 wage demand

They said: “The battle for a new national minimum wage rages on. Our demand of N615,000 stands firm, rooted in the grim reality of workers’ lives across the nation. Through rigorous engagement with all stakeholders, we’ve pressed for a two-year lifespan for the new act, with automatic adjustments triggered by inflation surpassing 7.5 per cent.

“Every employer with five employees and above must comply. We demand robust monitoring and strict penalties for non-compliant state governments. We have based our figures on real data gathered from your responses nationwide, ensuring that our demand reflects the true cost of living for an average family.

“Our message is clear: anything less than a living wage condemns workers to poverty. We urge vigilance as we near the finish line, determined not to let other interests derail our pursuit of economic justice. Together, we will ensure that President Tinubu’s promise of a living wage becomes a reality for every worker in Nigeria.

Threatens total shutdown if …

“If, however, the negotiation of the National Minimum wage is not concluded by the end of May, the Trade Union Movement in Nigeria will no longer guarantee industrial peace in the country.”

Energy Crisis

Decrying the current energy crisis in the country, they said: “Our nation is crippled by this very incompetence and selfishness, leaving our citizens and economy vulnerable. Power, regardless of its origin, fuels economic growth. Oil and gas are lifelines for energy success worldwide. The government must collaborate with the people to ensure energy benefits all Nigerians, not just a privileged few.

“We demand action on our refineries. Promises remain unfulfilled, while operational ones in the private sector fail to ease the people’s suffering. There is suspicion of sabotage to profit from importing, at the expense of our economy. The recent refinery agreement lacks transparency, echoing past exploitation in other sectors.

“Claims of trillions spent on PMS subsidies baffle us. We demand clarity from the government on who benefits and who consumes the 40 million litres of projected daily consumption.

Condemn electricity tariff hike, demands reversal within one week

“The power sector’s plight persists a decade after privatization. Conflict of interest hampers progress, and higher tariffs for nonexistent electricity are unjust. We reject unilateral and illegal tariff hikes and demand adherence to due process.
“A 300 per cent tariff hike would devastate domestic manufacturers. Consumer classification perpetuates inequality, akin to apartheid, endangering field workers’ lives.

“Reassessing privatization is crucial for progress. Despite billions invested, grid collapses persist, and generation remains stagnant. Tanzania’s recent action underscores the need for change. The government must reclaim control and account for revenue from its stake.

“We commend states pursuing independent power generation and urge swift action to break monopolies and empower consumers nationwide. Let us unite to ensure energy serves all Nigerians, driving our nation’s prosperity.

“The NLC and TUC hereby advise NERC and power sector operators to reverse the last increase in electricity tariff within the next one week.”

Insecurity

Ajaero and Osifo also lamented the state of insecurity, saying “Our nation is bleeding. In just the past year, over 4,800 lives have been lost to violence, with over 400 kidnappings reported in a mere two weeks earlier this year. We’re ranked among the top 10 most terrorised nations globally, and it’s unacceptable.

“Banditry and terrorism have made life unsafe for farmers and communities nationwide. Travelling is a nightmare, economic activities suffer, and food shortage looms as farmlands are ransacked or abandoned.

“Despite billions allocated to security annually, the situation worsens. We must rethink our security approach, involving communities for greater safety. Security is communal, it starts with the people.

“A nation unable to secure itself isn’t ready for development. Economic growth hinges on security. We can’t ignore this existential issue. Investing in people secures the nation. It’s time to prioritize the people for a secure and prosperous nation.”

Responsible leadership

The NLC and TUC reminded the President that true leadership prioritises the people above all else.

They said: “Success is not measured by promises or control, but by how well we meet the people’s needs, ensure their security, and provide essential services. Good governance means accountability and prioritizing citizens.

“To achieve this, we must address corruption, insecurity, and the brain drain. Fair treatment of workers isn’t charity, it’s smart economics. We demand fair wages that motivate and inspire productivity.

“Our leaders must serve the nation, not exploit it. We reject greed and call for patriotism and commitment. Let’s build a nation we’re proud of.

“We insist on genuine dialogue and respect for democratic freedoms. Investigate attacks on journalists and communities impartially.

“Security starts with prioritising people. Let’s put Nigerians first for the sake of our nation’s future.”

Places 18-point demand before FG

The 18 other demands by NLC and TUC are:

*That the government restrains itself from the use of violence in civic engagement within the Industrial relations sphere.

  • An immediate reversal of the unilateral hike in electricity tariff, enthronement of service reflective tariff and stoppage of segregation of consumers

*An expansion of NLAC’s activities and increasing its periodicity.

*The establishment of constant tripartite workplace audits at the federal, state and Enterprise levels

  1. An immediate roll out of the CNG buses nationwide as agreed of the October 2, Agreement signed with the government
    *Full Implementation of Registrar of Trade Unions for Registering more unions, we demand that nee unions be registered in the informal sector. 8. We call for an urgent rethink of the Presidential system of government as practised in our country.

*We call for ane call for a review of the Electricity Privatization exercise with the view to a reversal *Once again, we demand a two-state solution to the crisis in the Middle East. The hypocrisy around international issues imperils our world.
*PTAD has been doing a good job so, do not scrap it but leave it for Pensioners.

*We call for the payment of the N25,000 palliative promised to Pensioners since last year.

*We call for a National Minimum Pension to be negotiated alongside the National Minimum Wage.

*Nigerian workers call for a one-year moratorium on all forms of taxes, levies and dues collectable from the informal economy by state and local governments.

*The immediate inclusion of workers in the Committee set up to implement the Oronsaye Report to ensure that workers’ interests are protected through the President’s actions and appointments since the assumption of office has already exacerbated the challenges the Report sought to resolve.

*We demand the implementation of the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, NSTIP, and its provisions for the National Research and Innovation Council, NRIC, for improved funding of research. We call on the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the NRIC Bill and on Mr President to give assent thereafter.

*The resurrection of fuel queues around the nation should be nipped in the bud immediately
*The forwarding of the reviewed Labour Administration Laws in Nigeria to the National Assembly for passage into law.

Tinubu assures of pay rise, better working conditions

Meanwhile, President Tinubu assured Nigerian workers of a new minimum wage and a living wage, as well as improved working conditions.

Represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, the President said: “You, the workers of our great nation, are its very backbone. I want to assure you that we appreciate and celebrate your hard work, sacrifices, and contributions to the prosperity and stability of our great nation every day.”

On the new minimum wage, President Tinubu said, “We took office at a time when many nations, including ours, were experiencing daunting socio-political and developmental challenges. Yet, we are resolute in confronting these obstacles head-on.

“The Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage has been working diligently, and I assure you that your days of worrying are over. Indeed, this government is open to the committee’s suggestion of not just a minimum wage but a living wage.”

Emphasizing the importance of industrial harmony, the President praised the workers, saying, “Your role as an indispensable component of the nation’s engine cannot be overstated by any government if the quest for a just and progressive society is to be realised.

“Our shared vision for national growth and development can only be realised in an atmosphere of industrial harmony and peaceful coexistence in every segment of our country.”

Tinubu appealed to workers to continue to use the power of the labour movement for the greater good of the nation, fostering harmony and cooperation.

He said: “I call upon every one of you to join hands in shaping the destiny of our nation towards greatness. Our allegiance and patriotism are the bedrock upon which our beloved country thrives.”
The president in a statement by his spokesman, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, said: “The President salutes Nigerian workers for their fidelity to the peace, progress, and development of the nation evident in their tireless efforts and patriotic zeal to keep the national engine running.

“President Tinubu celebrates Nigerian workers across all spheres, from the clerical officer who ensures the proper documentation and distribution of correspondence; the security officer who remains ever dutiful through all seasons; the teacher who secures the future of our nation by imparting knowledge to the next generation; the doctor who works relentlessly to save precious lives, and to all Nigerian workers who keep the candle aflame.

“The President affirms that his administration remains committed to improving the welfare of all workers, noting the various relief programmes, including the wage award and the imminent minimum wage review.

“President Tinubu strongly believes that the custodians of the nation’s machinery deserve a fair wage and enhanced welfare and that a labourer is deserving of not just any reward but fair and commensurate wages.”

PDP charges Nigerian workers to resist anti-people tendencies

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Debo Ologunagba, said: “We salute Nigerian workers for remaining steadfast as real drivers of the national economy despite the asphyxiating and life-discounting conditions occasioned by the ill-implemented economic and fiscal policies of the All Progressives Congress, APC, administration.

“Our party is deeply distraught that Nigerian workers and indeed millions of other citizens have, in the last nine years been subjected to misery, harrowing economic hardship and worsening insecurity by the rudderless and insensitive APC administrations, which have wrecked the nation’s productive sectors and brought distress to our national life.

“The PDP particularly condemns the continuing increase in electricity tariff and price of petroleum products with petrol now selling at over N1000 per litre in various parts of the country; a situation that has resulted in an astronomical increase in the cost of living and worsened the economic hardship in the country.

“As the Party of the people, the PDP demands that the APC-led Federal Government ends its insensitivity towards Nigerians and use the occasion of the Workers’ Day to review all its retrogressive policies and take urgent action towards addressing issues that have direct bearing on the welfare of the citizens.

“The PDP however, urges Nigerian workers and indeed all citizens not to give up hope but remain steadfast in their commitment towards a stable, united and prosperous nation, especially at this challenging time.
“The Party celebrates the workers and wishes them a happy Workers’ Day celebration.”

I stand with workers in solidarity-Peter Obi

Obi, in a letter he addressed to the workers, said: “As we come together to celebrate Workers’ Day, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of pride and admiration for every one of you who continue to stand tall and steadfast in your commitment to building our great nation, even in the face of adversity and challenges.

“As we honour the hard work, dedication, and resilience of workers across the country and beyond, I am reminded of the incredible strength and spirit that defines us as a people.

“Despite the countless obstacles and hurdles that may stand in our way, you, the backbone of our society, remain unwavering in your resolve to contribute to the growth and development of our beloved nation.

“From the bustling streets of Lagos to the serene villages of the North, from the bustling markets of Onitsha to the bustling ports of Port Harcourt, your labour forms the foundation upon which our nation stands.

“Whether you are toiling in the fields under the scorching sun or labouring in factories amidst the hum of machinery, your efforts are the lifeblood of our economy and the driving force behind our progress.

“But beyond the tangible contributions you daily make to our nation’s development, it is your unwavering patriotism, resilience, and determination that truly inspire us all.

“In the face of economic hardships, political uncertainties, and social injustices, you continue to stand your ground, holding fast to your belief in a brighter future for our country.

‘I stand with you in solidarity, championing your cause and advocating for your rights. I recognize the sacrifices you make every day to provide for your families, support your communities, and contribute to the collective well-being of our nation.

“Today, as we celebrate Workers’ Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to one another and to the ideals of unity, justice, and equality for all. Let us take pride in our achievements, draw strength from our collective resilience, and rededicate ourselves to the noble cause of building a better, more prosperous Nigeria for generations to come.

“I extend my heartfelt gratitude and admiration to every one of you for your unwavering dedication, patriotism, and sacrifice. Your labour is the cornerstone of our nation’s prosperity, and your contributions will forever be cherished and celebrated.

“Truly, as our anthem reaffirms, the labour of you, our perpetual heroes, shall indeed never be in vain.”

Akpabio assures workers of better welfare

President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, in a message to mark Workers Day, by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Eseme Eyiboh, said: “A Nigerian worker is noted for his patriotism, hard work, resilience, and dedication to duty.

“I am happy to be associated with the Nigerian worker in the last more than 25 years and I can attest to the fact that everywhere you go, the Nigerian worker’s spirit resonates profoundly.

“No Nigerian worker will again be allowed to work under inhuman conditions. We will do everything to give you the best because you deserve the best.”

Akpabio who reiterated that the theme for this year’s celebration was apt and in tune with the international best practices, assuring that Nigeria will never be left behind, said that the 10th National Assembly was fully committed to providing the required legislative enablement aimed at protecting the interest of the Nigerian worker, creating a befitting workplace environment and a pay that takes them home.

He said: “On behalf of the Senate and the entire National Assembly and indeed, my family, I wish to join the world in wishing the Nigerian worker a happy International Labour Day.

“We are celebrating patriotism, hard work, commitment and dedication. And I want to assure you that your sacrifices can never go in vain. The tough times will never last forever and in fact, they will soon be over,” he added.


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