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Labour Rejects Tinubu’s Claims Of Agreement On New Minimum Wage

 

Organised Labour has rejected President Bola Tinubu’s claims that an agreement has reached on a new national minimum wages in his nationwide broadcast to make Democracy Day.

 

According to Organized Labour as at the time negotiations ended on Friday June 7, there was no agreement reached by Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage.

 

But rather, two figures such as N250, 000 from Organised Labour and N62, 000 from government and Organised Private Sector, OPS were arrived at and ought to have been submitted to the President.

 

In a statement by the Acting President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, Labour noted that anything to contrary was not only doctored, but won’t be accepted by Labour.

 

Reacting to the President’s speech titled “Tinubu’s Democracy Day speech and national minimum wage negotiation: May be accurate in history, inaccurate in reality”, equally, maintained that the committee never agreed on a five -year duration of the minimum wage Act, while acknowledging that the President mentioned five years or less.

 

The statement reads in part “The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) attentively listened to the Democracy Day Presidential address delivered by His Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, especially concerning the ongoing National Minimum Wage negotiations. While the President may have accurately recounted parts of our democratic journey’s history, it is evident that he has been misinformed regarding the outcome of the wage negotiation process.

 

To quote Mr. President; “As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you. In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less.

 

In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict. No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution”

 

We appreciate the President’s commitment to those fine democratic ideals which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups. However, we had expected Mr. President to have used this understanding as one of those who was in the vanguard of the struggle with us around the nation to rescue Nigeria from the hands of the military to harmonize the two figures submitted to him by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and masses. It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift.

 

“The NLC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the federal government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components. Our demand still remains N250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand Naira) only and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process.

 

We are therefore surprised at the submission of Mr. Presidentover a supposed agreement. We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC. There was none and it is important that we let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage. We have also not seen a copy of the document submitted to him and will not accept any doctored document.

 

“However, we want to reaffirm our belief that the President on whose table the Tripartite Committee’s report presently resides would prepare an Executive Bill which content will reflect the true demand of Nigerian workers. We think that this is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and masses by shunning the pieces of advice that may be coming from those whose intentions are continuously focused on hurting the poor and struggling workers of Nigeria. Mr. President should not allow these individuals and groups to sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty.

 

President’s advisers obviously did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed. It is therefore important that Mr. President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent. Series of media Propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government.

 

Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the Government and despite denials; recent statements by senior officials of the Government reaffirmed our fears contrary to the assurances by the Government. However, we remain assured that the President’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses.

 

It is also important that Mr. President should know that most of his officers are working round the clock to set up the leadership of congress and the trade unions. We never agreed on a 5-year duration of the minimum wage Act though we acknowledge that the President mentioned 5 years or less. We also agreed that inflation should be pegged at a level for certain amount to be agreed as minimum wage. This is to bring clarity to what the report should contain.

 

Once again, we reiterate that it will be extremely difficult for Nigerian workers to accept any national minimum wage figure that approximates to a starvation Wage. We cannot be working and yet remain in abject poverty.

 

We seek justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians and this we hope would also drive the actions of Mr. President who promised a Living Wage to Nigerian workers. This is an opportunity to show that he listens to Nigerians as he promised!

 

Together, we can build a stronger democratic nation based on equity which guarantees prosperity to the majority of the citizenry and not one where few individuals monopolize our collective resources. That is the only way to build a sustainable democracy. It is the true democracy that we all yearn for as a people!

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