The leaders of Organised Labour, workers and various civil society allies, marched across the country on Tuesday in a bid to sensitize workers ahead of the commencement date of the nationwide indefinite strike.
Backstory: The strike which is set to begin on November 6 is an effort to urge the government to set the new minimum wage at N30,000. Organized labor has threatened that “no N30,000 new minimum wage, no votes” in the 2019 general elections.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) had declared Tuesday a day of national mourning and sensitization of workers and Nigerians ahead of the November 6, the start date of a nationwide strike.
The federal and state governments have since declined any N30,000 minimum wage agreement.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said: “We call on the Federal Government to take necessary steps to ensure the enactment of a new national minimum wage act as we cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony.”
Wabba added that a new national minimum wage has been legally due since 2016, saying “the Minimum Wage Act prescribes a five-yearly cycle of review.”
Wabba also stated that the increase in pump price of petroleum products by over 85 percent and the devaluation of the Naira both significantly affected the cost of living.
He added that the inflation rate also contributed to rendering N18,000 unjustifiable as the national minimum wage. Wabba said, “Given the realities of our economic condition, the least any worker should earn is N30,000,” he said.
Bobboi Kaigama, the TUC president, reiterated Wabba’s statements saying that the implementation of the national minimum wage was imperative for alleviating the hard times workers are facing.
“They cannot say they do not have money; the political office holders have the money and also the government. We also know how much they are putting into politics and the forthcoming general elections.”
“Workers are not slaves but rather they create the wealth of the nation, they cannot continue to suffer. After all the minimum wage is long overdue,” he said.
Bottom line: The labor unions have already urged Nigerians to prepare for what has been referred to as “the mother of all strikes” and they do not seem to be backing down. Several governors have already reported that they are unable to pay the increased minimum wage, however, with labor insisting on the strike, and also threatening to boycott the 2019 general elections, perhaps something will give.