NIGERIAN workers are set to commence a nationwide strike over the stalemate created by the Federal Government on negotiation for a new minimum wage.
Already, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), directed its affiliate unions, the 36 states chapters and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as well as Joint Action Front (JAF), to commence the mobilization of workers for the showdown with the Federal Government.
Speaking after the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the NLC held at the Labour House, Abuja on Wednesday, President of NLC Comrade Ayuba Wabba directed the workers to be ready for a strike as soon as the 14-day ultimatum earlier given last week ends next week Wednesday.
According to Wabba, if the Federal Government failed to meet the demand of organized Labour at the expiration of the ultimatum next Wednesday, the National Administrative Council (NAC) and the leadership of the organized Labour have been empowered by the NEC to declare strike.
The NLC president said, “The NEC resolved that all its affiliate unions, the 36 state councils of Congress and the FCT, and the Joint Action Front communicate the decision of NEC to their members and the workers.
“NEC also resolved that at the expiration of the notice and ultimatum, if the demand of organized Labour is not met, NEC has given the mandate to NAC and leadership of organized Labour to declare an appropriate industrial action or any action it deemed necessary.”
The Organized Labour, comprising the NLC, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC), have last met last week Wednesday, and give a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to reconvene the stalled meeting.
As a follow up to that meeting, the meeting of all the industrial unions affiliated to NLC and chairpersons from the 36 states and the FCT was held yesterday.
After extensive deliberation on a number of issues, from the State of the nation to coworkers issue, industrial relations and issues that pertain to welfare and well being of Nigerians, the NEC of the NLC has taken the decision to mobilize the workers to embark the strike.
Wabba said: “The NEC expressed serious concern at the unilateral adjournment of the negotiation by the Federal Government on the day that the tripartite committee was expected to complete its assignment
“The NEC noted that this is against the principle of collective bargaining as provided in ILO convention 98 and Convention 131 on minimum wage setting process which Nigeria has domesticated
“NEC in session accordingly applauded and approved the proactive step, taken by organized Labour by issuing the statutory 14-day notice to preserve the sanctity of the Collective Bargaining process and the demand for the tripartite committee to reconvene within the set period to finalize the report in line with the principle of collective bargaining.”
He noted that the decision of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, to adjourn indefinitely, the final processes to arriving at a final figure on the national minimum wage violates the rules of procedure and extant agreement on the timeline to round-up the committee work.
The NLC noted that the minister himself had addressed workers on February this year during the NLC at 40 ceremonies and had publicly said that a new national minimum wage would be ready in September this year.
Wabba said, “The NEC in session noted that in any case, State Governors had submitted 21 memos. Similarly, Organised Labour and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), submitted a memo. The NEC said that in view of this, the minister’s utterances constitute a conscious effort to frustrate having or delaying a new minimum wage.”
Soji-Eze Fagbemi – Abuja