The Organized Labour appears to be preparing for a confrontation with the Federal Government, as they have criticized and opposed the government’s decision to reduce Nigerian workers’ pay.
This comes on the heels of a recent comment attributed to the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, in which she announced the Federal Government’s intention to reduce the cost of governance by lowering worker wages.
This revelation was contained in a statement released on Wednesday in Abuja by the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Waba, in which he expressed shock and claimed that the scheme amounted to a mass suicide wish for Nigerian jobs.
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Waba in his statement said, “The minister also allegedly directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), to immediately review the salaries of civil servants as well as the number of federal agencies in the country.
It is most unthinkable that the government would be contemplating to unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time.
He added that “The question to ask is which salary is the government planning to slash? It certainly cannot be the meager national minimum wage of N30, 000, which right now cannot even buy a bag of rice.”
The NLC President said that he believed the proposed salary slash was certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries that some state governors were still dragging their feet to pay.
He said that the multiple devaluations of the Naira in a short time, and the prevailing high inflation rate in Nigeria had negatively impacted on the salaries earned by Nigerian workers across the board.
He said, “Nigerian workers are only surviving by hair’s breadth. Indeed, Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs.
“It is, therefore, extremely horrendous for a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pronounce salary slash for Nigerian workers currently. This call for salary slash by Mrs Zainab Ahmed is tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish, for Nigerian workers.”
While demanding an immediate retraction and apology by the Minister of Finance, the NLC president, however, said that if there was any salary that needed serious slashing, it was the humongous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political office holders in Nigeria, who did extraordinarily little but collected so much.
“Workers produce surplus demand and income for the government,” Wabba said.
We are not an undue expense or burden on governance.
It is therefore important to emphasize that wages are the result of contracts that are regulated by rules.
They cannot be changed unilaterally.”
This action is not only at odds with the strongest global solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also violates applicable ILO Conventions and Declarations on Wages and Decent Work.
We advise the government, as a social partner, to respond rapidly to Labour’s demands for an increase in the pay of all Nigerian jobs.
Over the difficult patches of the pandemic, Nigerian jobs have shown ample understanding with the government.
Nigerian staff are now demanding that we reciprocate our understanding.
Nigerian employers want their remuneration and allowances to be increased.”