Minimum Wage: Ignore court order, go ahead with strike, civil society group tells labour

From Left: Sunday Salako, 1st deputy president TUC, Musa Lawal, Secretary General TUC, Ayuba Wabba, NLC
From Left: Sunday Salako, 1st deputy president TUC, Musa Lawal, Secretary General TUC, Ayuba Wabba, NLC

A civil society group, Joint Action Front (JAF), said on Sunday it was in support of the new N30,000 minimum wage proposed by organised labour while accusing the government of being insincere and unwilling to pay the proposed amount.

JAF in a statement signed by Dipo Fashina and Abiodun Aremu, its chairman and secretary respectively, urged the organised labour to disregard the court injunction procured by the federal government stopping it from embarking on its planned indefinite strike.

Following the breakdown of negotiation with the government, the organised labour fixed November 6 as the start of an indefinite strike. The government, however, secured an order from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria on Friday stopping the two main labour unions in the country, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) from embarking on the planned strike.

JAF said the strike is the only way to get the government to accept the proposed minimum wage.

“Minimum wage by law, and by legitimate demand, is for all workers [from level 01 – 17 and other salary scales] in the public and private employment of 50 or more employees. Indeed, for us in JAF, Minimum wage should be mandatory for all employers regardless the number of employees,” the statement declared.

“The current demand for a new National Minimum Wage has gone beyond the stage of negotiation, hence the N30,000 agreed at the Tripartite Committee, which is even very poor [@ US$83 per month compared to 1981 Minimum Wage of N125 @ US$250), represents an irreducible minimum and therefore, IT IS NOT NEGOTIABLE.”

The group stated that the federal government as well as state governments will not pay the N30,000 being proposed by labour if not compelled to do so.

“What is clear today from the unnecessary tensions being generated in the polity by the APC Looters’ Government and its officials is that none of the 36 State Governors and the Federal Government, irrespective of political parties (APC, PDP and APGA) like in past struggles for upward review of wage, is committed to pay the minimum wage without being compelled by struggle to do so.”

JAF said rather than complain about the unavailability of funds, governments at all levels should cut jumbo pay for politicians to raise money to pay civil servants.

“JAF therefore challenges the Presidency, State Governors and legislators in the National and State Assemblies to forfeit the questionable security votes/ undisclosed allowances, and cut down their outrageous total packages, and salaries and allowances of other political office holders in order to free up more resources that can be used not only to augment the cost of the new wage, but also the provision of social welfare programmes, such as free and quality education and free and adequate health care.”

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