The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on Nigeria’s Government to kick-start negotiation on the issue of national minimum wage.
Nigeria’s minimum wage at the moment is N18, 000, which NLC called “obsolete” considering the current economic reality in the country.
Speaking on Monday at the Independence Day Symposium and Rally organised by the NLC in Abuja, the President of the congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, stressed the urgent need for the government to commence negotiation on the new minimum wage.
“On the occasion of our 57th independence anniversary, we must again ask the Federal Government to reconstitute the national minimum wage negotiating council to enable us negotiate a new national minimum wage for this country urgently.
“The 2011 collective agreement entered into with the government at the end of the last negotiations, provided for a five-year cycle, for reopening negotiations, which is overdue.
“All economic indexes such as inflationary rate, cost of living index, exchange rate, high cost of goods and services, and so on, have all shown that the current minimum wage of N18,000 is obsolete. There is an urgent need for the government to give the go ahead for these negotiations to start as workers are running out of patience.”
Addressing the issue of poverty and inequality
Comrade Wada, who maintained that peace can only be achieved with social justice, called on the government to urgently address the issue of poverty and inequality between the rich and the minority.
“One of the founding principles of the international labour organisation (ILO) as contained in the founding constitution almost a century ago, in 1919, is the declaration that universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice.
“Addressing the issue of poverty and inequality and economic imbalances between the super-rich tiny minority and the rest of the population is one of the key challenges of our nationhood today.
“Our middle class has more or less been wiped out. What we now have are a very tiny few who are at the top, and very rich, and the vast majority of the people at the bottom ladder who are poor.
“It is in the above context that government must refocus its development programmes and planning to address the pressing needs of the vast majority of Nigerians that are excluded if the upheavals we are having in different parts of the country is not going to develop into a convulsion. Government must address the critical area of full, productive and decent employment,” the NLC president said.
“Nigeria not where it ought to be”
Wada lamented that in almost six decades of Nigeria’s independence, the country’s is not where it ought to be in virtually all facets of development indexes, considering its available human and natural resources.
He expressed optimism that Nigeria could be great if the issue of inequality is addressed, and its potentials adequately tapped for the benefits of the masses.
“We must bear in mind that due to the potentials we possess as a big nation, as the giant of the black race, many do not want us to actualise our full potentials. There are many out there that do not wish that we succeed and prosper as a nation.”
He said Nigeria’s nationalist leaders who fought for Independence from the colonial masters worked for a Nigeria where citizens will enjoy the fruits of freedom and independence.