By Joan Nwagwu
The President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, has said labour Unions were against the bill to remove National Minimum Wage from Exclusive to Concurrent lists before the National Assembly.
Wabba said this at a protest organised by NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) at the National Assembly on Wednesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the labour Unions organised a nationwide protest against the bill sponsored by Hon. Garba Datti Mohammed of Sabon Gari Federal Constituency, Kaduna State, which had passed first and second reading in February.
The protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘removing National Minimum wage from the Exclusive to the Concurrent list is a declaration of war on Nigeria workers”.
Others are, ‘National Minimum wage is our right, don’t decentralise workers wages” and ‘President Buhari, no room for fifth columnists, stand with Nigeria workers, keep minimum wage on exclusive list”, among others.
According to Wabba, the bill that seeks to remove the National Minimum Wage from the Exclusive list to the Concurrent list is not acceptable.
He said that the issue of National Minimum was a standard signed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO.
Wabba said that ILO was the first agency of the United Nations formed in 1919 after the First World War, adding, it has the powers of the United Nations.
He said that the National Minimum Wage was not a Nigerian Standard but International standard.
According to him, in the countries of the world, over 33 Federating Nations including the United States of America have their Minimum Wage in the Exclusive list.
“Currently, the Minimum Wage in the United State is ten dollars per hour and President Biden has already announced plans to initiate an upward review of the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
”How can we degenerate to remove the issue that workers have earned through hard labour for forty years overnight?
”The problem of Nigeria, we have said in essence, is the issue of good governance. That is why we are here.
”They are all well documented in the documents that we will present to the leadership of the National Assembly, ‘’ he said.
Wabba said that workers had given the leadership of organised labour the mandate to declare nationwide strike if the right thing was not done.
”We know that the State Governors collect the same salary across the country. States and National Assembly collect the same salaries across the country, so also the Counsellors.
”So, why is the case of workers different, if it is the issue of ability to pay?
”Governors also collect humongous amounts as security votes that have not been used to address security challenges in Nigeria.
”If we address this, we will have enough to pay the minimum wage. It’s a national benchmark.
”If the private sectors can pay, the government has more responsibility to the citizens than the highest private sector,” he said.
On his part, TUC President, Mr Quadri Olaleye, has called on the National Assembly to live by example.
According to Olaleye, leadership by example is the best.
”If the National Assembly must take that decision, all the executives should go back to their Local Governments to collect their salary according to their local governments revenue generation,” he said.
Olaleye, however, presented a protest letter to the House of Representatives through the Majority Leader, Hon. Hassan Doguwu.
While receiving the protest letter on behalf of the Speaker House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, Doguwu commended the organised labour leadership for expressing their grieviances in the right quarter.
”I want to say that we have accepted the letter presented to us by the organised labour and l want to assure you that we will give it the right treatment.
“We will also provide the window for the people to come and present their grievance through public hearing.
”That presentation of that bill is only a proposal and with what l am seeing now, it appears to me that the leadership of organised labour is against that bill.
“If you are against that bill, you are right and you have every reason to be against that bill.
”I want to assure that the House of Representative will see and give listening ear to your grievances.
”We will still invite you to come and engage with relevant committees to make your position,” he said.