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LABOUR THREATENS GOVS OVER NEW MINIMUM WAGE

By NBF News
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As the Council of State meets today to deliberate on the N18,000 new national minimum wage, organized Labour yesterday warned the state governors against standing in the way of the implementation of the wage.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said yesterday that the workers suspected the presence of fifth columnists within the Council of State who were out to sabotage efforts to get the new wage underway.

He warned that Labour would not take kindly to the move.

It alleged that there were moves to ensure the Council of State does not approve the wage at its meeting todayand by that cause disaffection between Labour and government. He noted that Labour should not be blamed for any unpleasant consequences of such a decision.

Indeed, the President of the NLC, Abduwaheed Omar while briefing newsmen yesterday on the expectations of the Labour on the contentious wage demand warned that the Congress and its sister Trade Union Congress (TUC), in association with its civil society allies would not tolerate any attempt to push the implementation beyond this month. Apparently, suspicious of subterranean moves by the state governors to sabotage the quick implementation of the new wage, the NLC president, said the governors could not claim they were not being carried along at every stage of the negotiation.

According to him, Governors Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, Babatunde Fashola, Lagos State and Danjuma Goje of Gombe had represented the State Governors at every stage of the negotiations adding, 'even when they (the three governors) were not present at the meetings, their representatives attended. Therefore, Labour would not tolerate any foot-dragging on the implementation of the minimum wage, Omar insisted.

According to him, ' the continued delay in the implementation of the new wagemore than six months after the agreement was reached, is to say the least, provocative. If after the warning strike and the proposed Council of State meeting, the implementation of the new wage is delayed beyond this month, then Labour would have no option but to demand for payment of salary arrears. Whatever the case, the Labour Movement will not allow the implementation of the new wage to drag beyond this year.'

Omar disclosed that feelers from the authorities revealed that, 'those who foisted that strike on the country had learnt no lessons and did not intend to back down. The NLC therefore called   on the Council of State to do that which would be in the best interest of the country and its people by supporting the N18,000 minimum wage agreement.  The NLC boss also warned those he alleged, planned to use the National Assembly to frustrate workers' demands noting that no earthly force could stop the legitimate entitlements of workers.

Said he: 'They will not only be swimming against the strong currents of public opinion but also that of the National Assembly which has promised to do what is right and legitimate for the working people. In fact the joint Senate and House Committees on Labour on November 9, 2010 delivered a message to the NLC that the NASS was willing and ready to pass the new minimum wage bill without delay if presented to it.

'The Congress can reveal that the decision to suspend the warning strike was partly due to the personal assurances of President Goodluck Jonathan and in part, due to the request by the NASS Joint Committees on Labour that the strike should not be allowed to run the gamut of its planned three days.