Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Labour declares war on govs

Organised Labour has said it would not hesitate to shut down states reverting to the old N18,000 minimum wage under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic.

The leadership of the two labour centres, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Association of Senior Civil Servants Nigeria (ASCSN) said the plan was at the final stage to serve as a deterrent to others that might be contemplating it.

Speaking at the fourth Quadrennial Delegate Conference of ASCSN in Abuja, yesterday, labour warned that any governor found culpable would face the wrath of the whole Nigerian workers who would all team up to fight the injustice.

The labour centres also noted that states that have continued to slash workers’ salary under the guise of shortage of funds would also face the consequences.

Presently, states under the labour radar include Delta, Niger, Kano and others.

The immediate past President General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), who is also the outgoing president of the ASCSN, Bobboi Bala Kaigama, in his address said COVID-19 should not be used as an excuse to derail the legitimate right of workers.

“The issue of the minimum wage is a law that is binding on all employers of labour. Observation of the law in the breach is therefore illegal and will surely meet stiff resistance from labour.”

He noted that some state governments which negotiated the Consequential Adjustment arising from the minimum wage of N30,000 with the Organised Labour in their states and duly signed the agreement that arose from the negotiation have suddenly reverted to the old salary regime (Pre-2019 Minimum Wage), a decision that was unilaterally taken.

“This unwholesome practice is an invitation to anarchy. The affected states are, therefore, advised to return the salary chart in their states to what was agreed with Labour in the interest of industrial peace and harmony in the States concerned and the country at large,” he stated.

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said Organised Labour insisted that it was illegal for any state to go back to N18,000 minimum wage and would not encourage any renegotiation in that respect.

“We are not going to fold our hands and we will use the best approach that will bring result. In fact, we are ready to shut down states that have reverted to N18,000,” he said.

He said labour would follow all the COVID-19 protocols in their planned protests and ensure that all workers wear a mask and are well protected.

“With or without COVID-19, we are ready to take the battle to their doorstep. The problems we face is occasioned by the greed of the political class.”

He said governors instead of reducing workers salary should rather use the security votes which they are using for their personal satisfaction to pay workers.

He said none of the governors receive less than N300 million monthly as security votes while some get over N1 billion, adding that henceforth governors must give an account of how the security funds are being used.

TUC President, Quadri Olaleye equally warned that if the government failed to manage the crisis emanating from the pandemic effectively, it might not be able to survive the next recession the economy may be plunged into.

Meanwhile, NLC has called on the Federal Government to rejig the security system to protect innocent Nigerian citizens from banditry.

The NLC, in a statement by Wabba, particularly flayed the killing of the five aid workers in Borno.

“For the past seven months, the insurgency and terrorism of the Boko Haram sect and other violent groups across the country have widened in scope. Since January 2020, Boko Haram has increased the wave of terror on major transportation arteries in the North East. Many inter-city and feeder roads in the region have been completely abandoned to the terrorists exacerbating the already precarious humanitarian situation in North-East Nigeria.

“So many lives have been lost in this renewed ogre of madness. A lot of public infrastructures has been destroyed in the process. Economic activities along Lake Chad Basin has been crippled and farmers in the crisis locations are attacked daily by terrorists.”

He expressed dismay that incessant insurgent attacks have displaced several residents in local government areas and towns across the North-East and sent people to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps.

“The same spectre of bloodletting, destruction and dislocation are occurring almost on a daily basis in Southern Kaduna. In northern Kaduna, most parts of Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Taraba, Benue, and Plateau states and other parts of North Central Nigeria, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and rural banditry have become the domineering narrative and the new normal as villages and towns fell one after the other to criminal masterminds. This is totally unacceptable.

“The Nigeria Labour Congress had earlier alarmed the nation to the epidemic of rape mostly against the female gender. Up till now, there are no concrete assurances that the identified cases are being diligently pursued and prosecuted. The deficit of robust investigation of these violent crimes with the intent of apprehending the masterminds and foot soldiers leave citizens with the eerily feelings that the country has now degenerated into a banana republic where autonomous power centres boldly compete for space and subservience with the state.

“We call on the Federal Government to quickly rejig our security apparatus and the security systems it has deployed to fight terrorism and violent crimes. Certainly, the current system is not working. The government must do whatever it takes under the powers bestowed on it to break once and for all the spine of terrorism and violent crimes in our country.

“We cannot afford to slide into a state of anarchy which is the wish of those who have picked up arms against the state and innocent civilians including workers. We must remind the Federal Government that the security of lives and property remains the numero uno responsibility of every government. The government certainly needs to do more to convince Nigerians that it is capable of living up to its promises to safeguard the lives of Nigerians and their property.

“We convey our heartfelt condolences to the families of our fallen heroes particularly the aid workers who were recently executed by Boko Haram. These compatriots have paid a heavy price. We pray that their sacrifice will not be in vain. Government at all levels and the echelon of our security apparatus must make sure that the sacrifices of our fallen compatriots are not in vain by putting a total stop to the Rivers of Blood!”

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