Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Critical organs of the labour movement will meet in Abuja today to fine tune strategies for the implementation of the nationwide strike scheduled for Tuesday to protest the failure of the federal government to accede to its demand for N30,000 as new minimum wage in the country.
Labour’s mobilisation for strike came just as the media support group of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the Buhari Media Organisation, pleaded with Nigerian Labour Congress and its allies to sheathe their sword and seek an amicable solution with the government.
As part of the series of engagements mapped out by the joint organs meeting of the labour movement, there would be a joint meeting of the Central Working Committees (CWCs) of all the Labour Centres in the country.
The workers held what they regarded as one day of mourning and protest across the country last Tuesday to draw public attention to their plight.
A communiqué signed by the NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, and General Secretary, Mr. Peter Essom, after its last meeting in Abuja had fixed today’s meeting.
The NEC meeting had resolved to commence an indefinite national strike and industrial actions from November 6, except government accepts and commences the process of perfecting the payment of N30,000 as the negotiated and compromise new national minimum wage before that date.
The communique reads: “In furtherance of this, NEC-in-session directed all affiliate unions, state councils, civil society allies, the informal sector and other friends of workers and lovers of democracy to commence immediate mobilization of their members;
“The NEC advised Nigerians to start stocking food and other necessities of life as workers will ensure a total shutdown of the country”.
Similarly the NLC condemned the decision of the federal government to clamp down on labour via what it described as “selective and erroneous invocation of the ‘no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act”, noting that the right to strike is both a human and trade union right and cannot be abridged.”
Also while responding to the offer by state governors to pay N22,500 as new minimum wage, the NLC said it would not accept anything short of N30,000 agreed during the tripartite negotiations.
“We wish to reiterate our position adopted at our National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of 23rd October, 2018 that any figure below N30,000 will not be accepted by us.
” We call on our members to continue to mobilize in preparation for the commencement of an indefinite strike on the 6th of November, 2018, if by then necessary steps have not been taken to adopt the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee,” it said.
Meanwhile the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliates have been asked to bend their position and reach an amicable solution with the government on the minimum wage negotiations.
In a statement signed by Mr. Niyi Akinsiju and Mr. Cassidy Madueke, its Chairman and Secretary respectively, the group called on labour to reason with the position of government and return to the negotiation table.
The group said that labour should consider the interest of the Nigerian people who would ultimately suffer if the crisis persists.
“Government’s position is formed from an understanding of its revenue and expenditure, not because it is selfish, but because it would not propose a sum that it cannot pay,” it said.