By Solomon Elusoji
Organised labour, under the aegis of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), has asked the federal government not to consider issues related to the deregulation of wages under the guise of restructuring the polity.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday, the ASCSN National President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama, and the Secretary-General, Alade Bashir Lawal, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to reject the recommendation of the committee set up by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and led by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, which had recommended that labour should be removed from Exclusive Legislative list to the Concurrent List.
The labour leaders posited that if wage and other labour-related matters were removed from the Exclusive Legislative List, governors, most of whom are not paying salaries to their workers, would use the opportunity to further impoverish Nigerian workers and their families.
“We, therefore, believe that labour like other institutions such as the army, navy, air force, customs service, immigration, among others are symbols of national unity and should accordingly be retained in the Exclusive Legislative List,” the union said.
The ASCSN chieftains recalled that the Chairman of the committee, El-Rufai, had been waging a war of attrition against trade unions in Kaduna State and at a time tried to dissolve all trade unions there by demanding that thousands of workers in the state should reapply to join any trade union of their choice contrary to extant labour laws, judicial pronouncements, and Conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the right of workers to organise and collective bargaining.
“As we speak, he has issued a circular stopping check-off deduction from salaries of union members in the state.
“Recently, Governor El-Rufai in continuation of his anti-workers’ agenda, also sacked 21,000 teachers in Kaduna State apart from other atrocities he has been unleashing on helpless workers in the state.
“Thus, it is not surprising that the governor has used the cover of the APC restructuring panel to want to completely decimate the trade unions in Nigeria by recommending that wage and other related labour issues should be removed from the Exclusive Legislative list to the Concurrent List to give El-Rufai and his fellow governors the opportunity to start paying peanuts as wages to their workers or no salary at all,” the union regretted.
The ASCSN leaders warned that anarchy would prevail in the industrial relations arena in the country if millions of workers in the 36 states of the federation would start to form their own trade unions and wondered how many trade unions would exist in the state and how negotiation would be carried out.
They regretted that in the 21st century, those who parade themselves as governors and politicians in the country are incapable of comprehending the fact that all countries of the world fix National Minimum Wage below which no worker should earn precisely because the welfare of the people is the main reason why governments exist in the first instance.
“But in Nigeria, El-Rufai and his cohorts believe that enormous public resources are for them, their families, and a handful of their sycophants to rampage and pillage,” the union stressed.
According to the ASCSN, countries of the world that have National Minimum Wage include but not limited to United States of America, 15,080 dollars per annum; United Kingdom, $20,063 dollars per annum; Australia, $26,862 per annum; Albania, $2,320 per annum; Argentina, $8,368 per annum; the Bahamas, $10,920 per annum; Brazil, $3,491 per annum.
Others are Canada, $17,027 per annum; Fiji, $3,189 per annum; Hong Kong, $9,245 per annum; Iran, $3,610 per annum; Ireland, $21,199 per annum; South Korea, $13,499 per annum; Morocco, $3,664 per annum; Cape Verde, $1,565 per annum; Republic of Congo, $1,821 per annum; Equatorial Guinea $2,611 per annum; Nigeria, $591 per annum;
The Union leaders regretted that the El-Rufai panel could not bother itself to do any research to establish the fact that all countries of the world have National Minimum Wage.
The ASCSN accordingly urged the National Assembly, civil society groups, religious leaders, prominent citizens, royal fathers, etc to rise up and reject the attempt by the APC through Governor El-Rufai to further impoverish millions of Nigerian workers and their families by removing wage and other labour related issues from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent List.