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MINIMUM WAGE: LABOUR GOES ON WARNING STRIKE JULY 20

By NBF News
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The organized labour yesterday shunned all entreaties by government and declared that it was going ahead with its planned nationwide strike over alleged non-readiness of the Federal Government and some state governors to implement the new N18, 000 national minimum wage.

Consequently, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) gave government up to Tuesday, July, 19 to comply with their demands after which it will commence a three-day warning strike, beginning on Wednesday, July, 20 to Friday, July 22.

The general strike, according to the organised labour, would be against the federal, state and local governments as well as the private sectors.

President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Abdulwaheed Omar, who gave the warning yesterday at a press conference held after an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC), expressed dismay over the attitude of both the federal and state government to implement the N18, 000 minimum wage which was signed into law in March 2011 by President Goodluck Jonathan.

He said the NLC was left with no option than to embark on strike.

'As a result of the above, the labour movement calls a three day general strike accross the country with effect from Wednesday, July 20 to Wednesday, July 22.

'Failure to do anything about the full implementation of this minimum wage,  Nigerian workers will be ready to embark on an indefinite strike to be announced at a later date.'

The NLC president further warned that the attempted decision by the Federal Government to make the new national minimum wage implementation applicable only to workers on Grade Level 01-06 in the federal service would not be accepted by the NLC, saying that the minimum wage had a national applicability and affects all workers, irrespective of sector and grade level.

At the press briefing that lasted for about 10 minutes, the NLC president said: 'The National Executive Council (NEC) of the NLC has painfully observed that over three months since the minimum wage became law, no government whether federal, state or local government has implemented it. Also, no private sector employer has paid the new wage.

'Although many state governments have promised to pay, there is no negotiated payment table on which the minimum wage is based. Unfortunately, state governors are allowing their colleagues to hold them to ransom on the implementation of the new national minimum wage.

'Even the Federal Government has also fallen foul of the minimum wage law. The attempted decision by the Federal Government to make the new national minimum wage implementation applicable only to workers on Grade Level 01-06, is not acceptable to us.

'We observed that the national minimum wage has a national applicability and affect all workers irrespective of sector or grade. Therefore both the payment table and the implementation circular presented by the Federal Government are rejected by the congress,' he said.

Comrade Omar who said that labour had expected the federal government to set a good example as a good employer by paying above the minimum base of N18, 000, in line with the labour-federal government understanding in year 2000, where it was agreed that the federal government, Lagos and oil producing states would pay higher than the minimum wage, expressed sadness that the same government has fallen foul of the minimum wage law.

To this end, he said the NEC has resolved that 'given the non implementation of the minimum wage by the federal, states and local governments as well as the private sector, the labour movement is left with alternative than to defend the minimum wage law, interest of working people and the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian populace to live above poverty line'.

He pointed out that 'we also have the historical duty to hold government accountable to the people and ensure that governments at all levels obey the laws of the land'.