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Workers on strike over minimum wage



The nationwide strike initiated by the organised labour commenced in Nigeria on Thursday with some public and private sector workers staying out of work.
 
The 14-day warning strike was called to force Nigerian government to increase the current minimum wage.
 
The strike which will affect workers in federal, 36 states and federal capital territory (FCT) and the local governments was call by the organised labour to kick against the current minimum wage which was put in place five years ago.
 
The industrial action was called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC).
 
The organised labour had also on Sept. 12 issued the Federal Government a 14-day ultimatum insisting that the Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage should conclude its work within the stipulated time frame.
 
 Workers from all sectors of the economy are to comply with the seven days nationwide warning strike which has begun.
 
 The negotiation for a new minimum wage had been on for about a year with the government negotiation team coming up with excuses, especially placing the delay in the process on the states.
 
The Tripartite Committee meeting called to avert the planned strike ended in a deadlock on Wednesday but the labour minister, Mr. Chris Ngige, said the meeting was shifted to Oct. 4.
 
Mr Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), accused the Federal Government of stalling the negotiation by failing to mention a figure as a new minimum wage for workers.
 
According to Wabba, the industrial action is in compliance with the decision of the various organs of the organised labour, which endorsed the 14-day ultimatum served on the Federal Government by member of the unions who were part of the negotiation committee.
 
“The labour further mandated its leadership to take all necessary steps to  ensure compliance with the warning strike in the first instance.
 
 “This is to compel the government to reconvene the meeting of the committee in order to bring it to a logical conclusion.
 
 “In compliance with this mandate, all workers in the public and private sectors at all levels across the country have been directed to join the strike.
 
 “Industrial unions, state councils, all workers organisation and our civil society allies have been directed to step up mobilisation of their members,” he said.
 
 He also said that public and private institutions, offices, banks, schools, public and private business premises including filling stations are to remain shut till further notice.
 
 Wabba said that all those who mean well for the country and want to see to the success of the action should cooperate with labour, saying that the action would remain in force until further directive are given.
 
 The NLC president noted that the justification for the new national minimum wage cannot be over argued.
 
“We do believe that the reasons governors find it difficult to pay the national minimum wage are lack of political will, high level of corruption, excessive cost of governance, white elephants projects and among others.
 
“In any case, we are commending the governors that have indicated their readiness to pay the new national minimum wage and we advise those who are not prepared to pay to go back to their state and tell the workers in their state that they would not pay.
 
“We, therefore, find it necessary to caution against any attempt by government at any level to blackmail workers or/and their unions because we have been patient, considerate and patriotic.
 
“Indeed government had to commend workers and their union for waiting patiently for two years before commencing negotiations for a new National Minimum wage.
 
“We advise that our disposition should not be taken for granted,’’ he said.
 
 The National Minimum Wage Committee was inaugurated in November 2017 and started sitting in March 2018.
 

The minister reported that the meeting with the organised labour on Wednesday was in fact successful as both the Federal Government team led by the Minister of Labour and Employment and the leadership of the organised Labour agreed to reconvene the meeting of the National Minimum Wage Committee on Thursaday, October 4, 2018.