Thursday, June 4, 2020
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Averting Industrial Action Over Minimum Wage Negotiations

The nation has in the last few years enjoyed relative peace and harmony in   government-labour relations. However, recent developments over the implementation of the N30,000.00 minimum wage for workers may trigger a nation-wide industrial action if the federal   and the state governments fail to implement it as well as address some grey areas by the end of October.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the principal trade union body has threatened to shut down the nation with an  industrial action commencing from October 16, if the issues surrounding the implementation of the new national minimum wage are not addressed.

We are worried as a result of the threat by Labour to go on strike at this point in time, as a result of breakdown in negotiations between  it and  the federal government. The NLC maintained   on Monday, that it decided to take the action  to press for  its position on the  commencement of the payment of the  N30,000  new minimum wage at the end of this month. After the negotiations between the federal  government and Labour collapsed following disagreements over the percentage increase in “consequential adjustment” arising from the new wage structure, labour had  last  Friday, issued a communiqué giving an ultimatum to meet its demands by October 16, or face industrial action.

 At a rally to mark the 2019 World Day for Decent Work in Abuja, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, represented by Vice-President, Benjamin Anthony, called for decent work conditions for workers. He said, “We re-echo our position that decent work must be at the centre of government actions to bring back economic growth and build a new global economy that puts the people first.”

According to the NLC leader:“There cannot be decent work without decent wages. The national minimum wage is the floor for decent wages. We call on all levels of government to commence the full implementation of the N30,000 national minimum wage. Also, negotiations for the consequential salary adjustment must be concluded now so that all workers would have a reason to smile at the end of this month.”

The Union also called for tax reforms in a manner that would bring more productive people into the tax net, with the rich paying taxes commensurate to their incomes .

We wish to commend the Organised Labour and the federal government for the series of negotiations they had held, even though most of them collapsed as a result of failure to agree to  each other’s expectations. Despite some of these setbacks, we firmly believe that negotiations remain the best option, and as a result we are urging the federal government to shift grounds by accommodating the workers’ demands. The federal government is insisting that it will be compelled to embark on retrenchment of its workforce if it has to meet the new demands of Labour. That is not advisable in the wake of growing poverty in the land, caused essentially by unemployment and loss of jobs by millions of workers. We advise strongly against such a move.

 The reality of living in the country has put too much pressure on workers. While we appeal to workers on the other hand to sheath their sword, and withdraw the ultimatum in the interest of the nation, we are call on  the government to endeavour to  reach a meeting point with Labour without much delay in the overall interest of the nation.

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