Labour or May Day: Nigerian Workers want new wage to begin in May

May Day or Labour Day, what matter to every Nigerian worker is for the government at all level to begin the #30,000:00 minimum wage this month of May as they are marking the 2019 May Day today.

There have been calls that the government at all levels should begin the implementation of the N30,000 new national minimum wage across the nation.

The Nigerian Guardian reports that in an interview, yesterday with  the General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said the organised labour would today formally ask all employers of labour in the country to begin the payment of the new wage from this month.According to him, getting the new minimum wage law implemented is not a one-off process but one that requires diligence and accuracy.

“A law takes effect from the day it is signed. So, the minimum wage law takes effect from the 18th of April, 2019 when it was signed by the president. The actual implementation, when the money would be paid, including whatever arrears that are there, is a matter for individual employer’s consultations with the relevant unions. That is how that would take place. As such, that sets the stage for actual implementation because while in some sectors there may not be difficulty at all and implementation will just go on unimpeded, we know that, particularly in respect to some states, there would be different levels of struggle that would still have to be executed in order to make the new wage a reality.

“This is because paying the minimum wage would require working out a salary table and how things fit into it. Each state is expected to deal with such situations, likewise at the federal level. So, these are the stages of struggles we are envisaging, but we are insisting that all these need to be sorted out very quickly so that actual implementation can start with the May 2019 salary,” he said.

Zoo-Eson also hinted that the labour movement would continue to take hard stance on casualisation but would be methodological in its approach with a view to getting the best bargain for Nigerian workers.He said the NLC had signed memorandums of understanding with some employers as well as employment agencies to inculcate the spirit of decent work as spelt out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) relevant conventions.

”We have been engaged on the issue of casualisation for a very long time through a committee. We have even picketed a number of places. Some of those engagements have yielded results. For instance, at the Abuja Environmental Agency, we were able to get a memorandum of understanding signed that ensures casual workers are treated right.

”Apart from that, we are also working with companies that are involved in providing outsourcing services. We have also reached a memorandum of understanding with them such that whoever they employ and supply to places of work will be governed by all the issues of decent work, including guarantee of minimum wage and right to unionise,” he stated.

Relatedly, Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa urged his counterparts in other states to pay the new N30, 000 minimum wage to workers.Okowa, in an Interview with State House correspondents in Abuja yesterday said the new wage was long overdue, arguing that N18, 000 was no longer sustainable.

“We are actually going to pay the N30, 000; we have made our statement long before the new minimum wage was even approved. I actually believe that it’s long overdue because N18, 000 is definitely not sustainable.“I have told my colleagues and the NLC president that this time, we must understand what minimum wage is. It is not supposed to be a general salary increment. Those at the bottom of the rung should actually benefit much more than those at the top and it ought to be so,” he said.

In Imo State, the Secretary to the Government, Mark Uchendu, advised the incoming administration of Emeka Ihedioha to give priority to the payment of salaries and pensions.The workers in the state under the aegis of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have been at loggerheads with the government over the non-payment of salary and pension arrears for months.

Uchendu told The Guardian in Owerri that soon, the state would suffer a heavy financial setback if efforts were not made to “accommodate the purging number of pensioners as well as regularise salary and pension payment.”

“I will request the incoming administration to take this matter of payment of salaries and pensions seriously,” the SSG promised.The Kaduna NLC called on workers to be more diligent and dedicated in their services to humanity as they await the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage, which it said would commence this month.

The State Chairman of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Sulaiman, made the call at a pre-May Day lecture held in Kaduna with the theme: “‘Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement.”

He said the lecture was organised to mobilise workers towards the celebration of the International Workers Day and also enlighten them on the importance of the event.

“‘During this celebration, we are offering solidarity to the cause of social justice, freedom of expression, human rights and the rule of law, and we are supporting democracy.`On May Day, we present our grievances, our needs, our agitations to the political class for succour, promote our unity and solidarity because strength lies in our unity,” he said.

The lead presenter at the event, Mr. Isah Aremu, commended the NLC for fighting for the new minimum wage.“We must be united so that we can bargain together or be divided and become beggars; we must have unity to create jobs, unity for prosperity against poverty, among others,” he said.

In another related development, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has saluted Nigerian workers for their tireless contribution to the socio-economic development of the country, in spite of fluctuating economic realities.

Saraki, in a message of goodwill to mark the 2019 Workers’ Day celebration, signed by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, also commended the leadership and members of the organized labour for their patriotism in often choosing dialogue rather than industrial action in resolving trade disputes.

He expressed hope that workers would be encouraged to always put in their best in working to uplift and sustain the nation’s economy, in view of the recent signing into law of a new minimum wage of N30,000.00.

“No nation can develop without a virile and agile workforce,” Saraki said. “It is trite to say that workers are the mainstay of our nation’s economy, since no policy of government, no matter how remote, will succeed without the commitment and collaboration of workers saddled with implementation.

“However, having interacted with Nigerian workers and their leadership times without number, I can say without fear of contradiction that the nation’s workforce is among the best in the continent,” he stated.

“All that is left is to adequately harness their abundant talents and spirit of patriotism to further improve on the nation’s economic and political development through timely and adequate motivation, training and retraining. The public sector should work to ensure that the country realizes her potentials. It should eliminate tardiness, increase the level of discipline and strive to provide enabling environment for the private sector to thrive with the resultant broadening of the scope of national prosperity”, Saraki stated.

He called on the leadership of organized labour to continue to discharge their responsibilities in the overall interest of the country and her people while the government would continue to do its best to meet the yearnings and aspirations of workers and other Nigerians through sustainable welfare programmes.

Also, the Lagos state Governor-elect Babajide Sanwo Olu congratulates the Nigerian workers in Lagos state on this occasion of may day. 

He said: Today, I celebrate the resilience and ingenuity of every worker in Lagos contributing your quota to ensure things work. You are the wheel that keeps our state and economy moving. There is dignity in Labour. Be proud of all you do because it is not in vain.

Meanwhile, the Take It Back Movement organised May day mass action today in Lagos to protest the unpalatable conditions of workers and infrastructures, VAT implementation of minimum wage and review among many of their demands.

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