NLC Blames Governors For Economic Woes, Demands Pay Rise | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NLC Blames Governors For Economic Woes, Demands Pay Rise

Posted: Nov 23, 2015 at 9:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

*Demands pay rise for workers

In the face of dwindling revenue and non-payment of workers’ salaries, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has accused the state governors of mismanaging the nation’s economy. NLC, in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by its National President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said that the governors have failed to get their priorities right.

Wabba described the attempt by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to reverse the N18,000 National Minimum wage as a declaration of war against Nigerian workers. Also, the workers demanded an upward review of the N18,000 National Minimum Wage. The organised labour called for the reduction on the cost of governance and the profligacy of governors to address the economic challenges confronting the country.

“For us in the NLC, we know as a fact that ability to pay minimum wages is not the problem of the economy. What is the problem for states and other tiers of government is the amount of many political office holders and their unproductive aides take away as wages. For the private sector, the greed to accumulate more and more profit is also always a motivating factor to keep wages down.

“Similarly, we have been in the forefront of campaigning that the cost of governance at all levels need to be drastically cut down, to free enough resources for development. “The hundreds of billions of naira our public office holders continue to filter away in the name of governance is what is not sustainable.

“For instance, the annual cost to the public purse of governors ‘security votes’ which is an unaccountable drain on the public resources, is worth several thousands of minimum wages per state. “Secondly, Nigerians who have the means to travel by air would recall that in the last 6-10 years, majority, if not all our governors no longer use commercial airlines’ regular flights as a means of transportation from one place to another. “They now have ‘official’ aircraft and helicopters, which they maintain at huge costs to the state treasury.

Their less “fortunate” counterparts charter aircraft and helicopters at millions of naira cost to taxpayers to attend any manner of functions from marriages to child naming ceremonies.States are in the poor financial state they are in largely on the developmental choices they have made; largely on the basis of priorities they have chosen which has nothing to do with the public good.” he said.

The umbrella body of workers said it would have no alternative than to mobilise and respond to what it called act of aggression by the political class on the welfare of its members. Wabba said labour was shocked by the statement credited to the NGF chairman, Governor Abdulaziz Yari, that the N18,000 National Minimum Wage promulgated into law in 2011 was no longer sustainable because of the fall in the price of crude oil.

It maintained that workers’ salaries cannot be sacrificed on the altar of challenges of the economy which is not the making of workers. The labour body said it was ready to do battle with the governors to raise the standard of living of its members. “It has never happened in the history of our country and it will not be said that it is during our leadership of the Nigerian Labour movement that this calamity was allowed to happen to Nigerian workers,” Wabba said He further said the process that gave birth to the minimum wage was in the best tradition of tripartite negotiation recognised and codified by the International Labour Organisation. His words:

“As organised Labour, we submitted a request for N52,000 and provided justification for it as the minimum wage which a worker and his recognised legal dependents need to live a healthy life over 30 – 31 days in a month. “Out of our patriotic disposition and consideration, we reluctantly agreed to the N18,000 wage even as it was grossly inadequate as a living wage.

Many of the state governments who submitted memoranda to the tripartite negotiating committee recommended figures that were far above the N18,000 that was eventually agreed.” Wabba stated that NLC has, since May 2015, given notice that the N18,000 National Minimum Wage was due for review. “We have been patient and waited for the President Muhammadu Buhari government to appoint ministers and thus have full compliments of officers to run the government.

“With the recent devaluation of the naira and the attendant increase in inflation and cost of living, even without the last minimum wage act reaching the mandatory five years when it is due for review, we would have been justified to request for review. “Now the five years is here – we are at the end of 2015, and with the cost of living being so high, we will soon table our New Minimum Wage demand to the Federal Government.

If the recent statement by the Governors’ Forum is intended to maneuver them away from addressing these imperatives, then it is bound to fail as we are ready to do battle to raise the living standard of the Nigerian working people,” it said.