Organised labour in the country may embark on Industrial action over the decision of state governors decision to reduce the N18,000 minimum wage for civil servants.
Already, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to call their governors to order or be prepared to face industrial action in the country.
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, said that the governors’ insistence on either abolishing the N18,000 minimum wage or retrench workers was an invitation to crisis.
“The NLC wishes to categorically affirm that the path our governors are heading can only lead to one outcome: A head-on collision with Nigerian workers and Nigerian people,” he said.
Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, who is the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), has restated the determination of his colleagues to reduce the national minimum wage or, in the alternative, embark on massive retrenchment of workers.
But Wabba stated that the governors’ position amount to a declaration of war against the working people of our country.
His words: “By his reaction, the congress is convinced that Governor Yari is still holding on to his earlier argument that due to the fall in the price of crude oil at the international market, state governments are no longer in the position to pay the legal minimum wage to their workers.
“In our context, a worker’s legitimate dependents include the worker’s spouse and four children. In simple arithmetic terms, N18,000 divided by six persons over 30 days amounts to N100 per day per person or N600 for the six persons per day. This is the amount that is expected to feed six people daily.
“Then they have to find some amount from the same wage for accommodation, healthcare, transportation, education, and maybe, some change for clothing to cater for basic necessities of daily existence.
“For us in the NLC, governors/states are going away with N500 million, N50 million or less from the monthly federation account sharing, not on account of the fall in the price of crude oil alone, but because of the earlier choice(s) the governors made in recklessly mortgaging their states’ revenue through uneconomical borrowing from commercial banks.
“The point needs restating that as long as our political elite do not find anything wrong in a local government councillor, chairman, state legislator, state governor etc., earning uniform wages and allowances across board irrespective of the state of natural endowments of the various local governments and states, no amount of preaching or threat from any quarters will stop us from insisting on an enforceable national minimum wage.
“We commend the governors of Edo, Rivers, Jigawa and Ekiti states and other progressive governors who have so far dissociated themselves from this insensitive and economically-illogical campaign by chairman of the NGF, allegedly on behalf of his colleagues, to discard the 2011 National Minimum Wage Act, or on the alternative, throw more workers into the already saturated unemployment market.
“We call on the ruling APC government and the opposition PDP to call their governors to order as any attempt to renege on the payment of the N18,000 National Minimum Wage or engage in mass sack of workers in the states will throw our already beleaguered country into industrial disharmony and chaos, either now or as we enter the New Year 2016.”
The NLC president said that the congress has commenced mobilisation to ensure that “we can respond speedily and promptly to any action of the governors to carry out their threat.”