- Say governors still fly private jets
By Paul Obi in Abuja
Ahead of the commemoration of Workers’ Day tomorrow, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday insisted that there was no going back on its demand of N56,000 as the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers, arguing that the three tiers of government were capable of paying.
NLC Vice President and Chairman of the May Day Committee, Comrade Peters Adeyemi told journalists in Abuja that this year’s theme, “The Working Class and the Quest for Socio-Economic Revival” was in consonance with labour’s zeal to chart the course of pro-poor policies and programmes in the country.
He argued that addressing income equality and ensuring a sustainable living minimum wage remained key to resolving the conflict of inequality and poverty among Nigerians.
He justified labour’s call for N56,000 as the new minimum wage, stating that, “some are asking if there is justification for wage increase in view of the current situation on ground; the answer is yes. The Naira itself has collapsed beyond the expectations of every Nigerian.
“As of this morning, it’s about N321 to the dollar, and they say it’s stable now. If you do the calculation, that’s more than 100% fall. What that means is the N18,000 has gone down from the time it was negotiated. With good conscience, you can’t insist that N18,000 should be the minimum wage.
“The unlawful increase of electricity tariff; If you look at every other thing, you find that there has been tremendous increase in services and commodities. So there is enough justification for minimum wage increment.”
The NLC VP stressed that the prevailing economic hardship and the attendant suffering associated with it, compel the need for a new minimum wage, stating that “when we renegotiated the minimum wage then, the exchange rate was N145 to a dollar.”
Adeyemi said: “With this proposed new minimum wage, life will be better for our workers. At this point in time, we believe that the figure of N56,000 is realistic and it is supposed to be affordable by our employers.”
He maintained that the excuses given by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) that the present economic climate was not conducive for such demands fell short of the mismanagement and prolificacy going on across the state, adding: “as we are talking now, there are governors that are still flying private jets.”
Speaking against insinuations that labour might have jettisoned its planned nationwide strike against government, Adeyemi said: “We have not called off the planned warning strike over the refusal of DISCOs to return to the normal electricity tariff, but both the TUC and NLC are committed to that mandate. So, we have not called it off; it’s something that we are committed to.”
He added: “It is most pertinent to reiterate our calls for the suspension of the implementation of the recent increment in electricity tariff, and for the government to put an end to the endemic fuel scarcity that has resulted in the unwanted long queues at the filling stations, leading to the loss of man hours and bringing untold hardship on the workers and the masses, who are already impoverished by the lack of electricity supply and near collapse of the energy sector.”