Chris Steven, Abuja
A serious industrial crisis is looming across the 36 states of the federation as the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has said that it would resist any attempts by the state governors to stop the payment of the N18,000 minimum wage to civil servants across the country.
The Congress, in a statement issued by its President and General Secretary, Comrades Boboi Kaigama and Musa Lawal respectively reacting to media reports that governors after a meeting in Abuja can no longer pay the minimum wage said it was ”vehemently against the move and would stop at nothing to ensure it does not see the light of the day”
The TUC said its organs are going to meet very shortly to prepare for the war declared by the Governors Forum against labour and the toiling masses of the country.
It described as heartless and barbaric the decision of the governors to stop paying the minimum wage saying “we are disappointed because we had expected the Governors Forum to be angling about true fiscal federalism and how to harness the resources nature has bequeathed to every state.”
“We have always made it known that the cost of governance is high, especially as every state depends on federal government’s monthly allocation. Why should the innocent pay for the looting and stealing of our leaders. If they cut down salaries, how do they want business to flourish when the purchasing power is already very low. It appears all the hype on “anti -corruption” is hereby laid to rest, as workers must now steal to survive.” it added
TUC said described as laughable, the recent report in the national dailies saying that governors in their meeting in Abuja said they can no longer pay N18, 000 national minimum wage because it was imposed on them when oil sold for $126 as against the present price of $41 per barrel.
“But for the wide reportage of the new position of the governors and the fact that none of them has come up to refute it congress would have said it is one of those rumours.
What baffles any Nigerian is that the governors assert that the minimum wage was “imposed”. We are all living witnesses to the processes the last minimum wage negotiation took.
There was a tripartite meeting, involving government at all levels, employers (through Nigeria’s Employers’ Consultative Association NECA) and the organized labour. One will say that the negotiation that took place fulfilled International Labour Organisation (ILO) standard of tripartism. After which the National Assembly enacted the new Minimum Wage Bill to law.
And now, our leaders, the governors, short of suffering from total amnesia are talking of imposition. We are not only disappointed but also we fear for our future as responsible citizens of the country because we are daily confronted with policy summersault as development strategies.” TUC said
The Congress also carpeted the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for failing to meet up with the purpose for which it was constituted.
“We had thought that the very essence of setting up the Governors’ Forum is for them to meet once in awhile to discuss vital issues on how to move the country forward little did we know that we are absolutely wrong.
For issues like reduction of national minimum wage and sack of workers to be discussed at what is supposed to be a high profile meeting sends a wrong signal. We are disappointed that governors who preached love, peace and progress for all few months ago is now singing in a different tune.
They have suddenly realized they can no longer pay $90 a month, which suggests to us that they are asking for a merger! How can they not pay N18, 000 but they can have a 10- car convoy, six for wife, pay themselves ridiculous pension and severance pay, have houses in Abuja,Lagos, Dubai, London, USA; send their children to primary schools in London and stash millions of pounds in their mansions. ” it said