NLC Plans Protest over Bid to Decentralise Minimum Wage Negotiation

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•Threatens to picket fuel stations over hoarding

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The organised labour is planning a national demonstration to protest plans by the National Assembly to decentralise minimum wage negotiations.

The protest, to hold on March 10, followed the ongoing efforts to transfer the national minimum wage from the exclusive list to the concurrent legislative list.

The labour movement also frowned on the ongoing fuel scarcity in the country, threatening to picket petrol stations hoarding petroleum products.

These decisions were taken yesterday at an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Abuja.

NLC President, Dr. Ayuba Wabba, told reporters after the meeting that the attention of workers had been drawn to a bill sponsored by Hon. Garba Datti Mohammed, a member of the National Assembly representing Sabon Gari Federal Constituency in Kaduna State, which seeks to move the national minimum wage from the exclusive list to the concurrent list in the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

He said the NLC also rejected another bill to establish State Judicial Councils.
Wabba said the NLC viewed the moves to decentralise the minimum wage negotiations as politically motivated.

“After careful deliberations of the issues, the NEC decided that there will be a national protest commencing from March 10 in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and especially the National Assembly. NEC resolved that the protest will be concurrently held in all the 36 states of the federation and to the different state Houses of Assembly across Nigeria,” he added.

He said the protest was to make a strong statement that Nigerian workers “would not allow hard-fought rights, which are global standards, to be bastardised by opportunistic and narrow-minded politicians.”

He stated that apart from creating minimum wage variations across states, it will introduce politics into the wage determination and negate the collective bargaining principle.

“It will lead to a hostile industrial space with diminished productivity and national security implications.

“In the light of the foregoing, the NEC called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow fifth columnists masquerading as politicians to derail his government by railroading the legislature into removing the national minimum wage from the exclusive list to the concurrent list,” he said.

Wabba added that the NEC has empowered the NLC leadership to work with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to actualise workers’ objective in this direction.

He also expressed concern about the hoarding of petroleum products, which is causing a scarcity in major cities.

“The NEC warned that should the current artificial scarcity persists, that the various leadership structures of the NLC should picket petrol stations found to be inflicting pains on Nigerians,” he stated.