Owing to the dwindling shares of revenue going to each state of the federation, the State Governors have considered to reduce the minimum wage of N18,000 that was signed into law 2011 by the former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In response to the governors decision, the organised labour has kicked against it, saying they are ready to go on strike should the governors no longer pay the minimum wage.
The decision was made yesterday during the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, and it was the joint opinion of the 36 governors to cut wages of their workers. They argued that crash in the oil price per barrel from the benchmark of $126 to $41 has increased the burden of wages.
The leaders of Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, is not taking the issue lightly with governors, saying “the governors should not think the Nigerian workers do not have the capacity to retrench them.”
Factional President of NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, while insisting that Nigerian workers totally reject the governors’ position, warned that if the governors wanted organised labour to close down the country, labour was ready to do so. He confirmed that the NLC would be meeting today on the platform of the Central Working Committee, CWC, and the issue would feature prominently after which a statement would be released.
Wabba said: “We reject it totally. Nigerian workers will never accept it. We all know that it is a reality that N18,000 can no longer take the workers home and cannot sustain any family. Many countries are reviewing their minimum wage upwards to meet the current realities. In Nigeria, there is even greater need to increase the minimum wage because our currency had been devalued; inflation keeps rising among others.
“What is the relation of the Nigerian currency to the Dollar or what is value of the N18,000 to the Dollar? We are going to reject the move with all our might. We are not the cause of the problem. They should think out of the box to find solution to the problem. When there was excess crude money, the workers did not benefit and so, we cannot bear the brunt. If the governors want us to close down the country, we will do that.
“What about their outrageous salaries, bloated overhead cost, inflated contracts and others? NLC is meeting tomorrow (today) on the organ of the Central Working Committee, CWC. This issue is going to feature prominently and we are going to come with a strong statement on it. Obviously we cannot bear the brunt. They governors should think how to generate revenue instead of depending on oil money and allocation from Abuja.
“The governors should know that the N18,000 minimum wage was not just negotiated, it was a product of a tripartite process involving the governors, employers and organised labour. It passed through the National Assembly before former President Jonathan signed it into law. If any party wants to breach or renege on such agreement, they should be prepared for the consequences.
“We know there are challenges, but the governors should face reality. The problem is the cost of governance and too many frivolities. Today, with crazy bills from electricity providers, increase in fuel price, school fees, hospital bills, and other utilities, N18,000 cannot take any worker to the bus stop. We want to know their salaries as approved by the Revenue and Fiscal Mobilisation Commission, that of their commissioners, advisers and others, their security votes and others.