By Appolos Christian
The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), may embark on a nationwide strike if the National Assembly gives credence to a Bill seeking movement of the minimum wage from the Executive Legislative list, to Concurrent Legislative list
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, when he addressed journalists in Abuja after the NEC meeting said that any attempt to move the minimum wage was an attempt to plunge the country into chaos and make Nigeria a laughing stock in the international community, as minimum wage was a global standard.
Wabba who said the political class were the major problems of Nigeria’s unity and progress, described as unfortunate, the move by the political class seeks to further worsen the precarious situation of Nigerians by declaring a war against the working class and prosecuting same by attacking the core rights of workers.
According to him, the major reason behind the call to move the minimum wage to the Concurrent Legislative list was to enable states negotiate and fix their minimum wage, which may not being into cognisance, protection of employees in government and organised private sector, and particularly, the unorganised, the unskilled and the vulnerable in the highly un-governed space known as the informal sector.
He maintained that the National Minimum Wage was a global standard adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) through Convention 26 which was ratified by Nigeria on June 16, 1961, and that Nigeria as a Sovereign gave effect to the National Minimum Wage by putting it in the Exclusive Legislative List.
He said: “The attention of the entire working class in Nigeria has been drawn to a bill which was listed in the House of Representatives as HB 950. This bill which was sponsored by Honourable Garba Datti Mohammed of Sabon Gari Federal Constituency, Kaduna State had passed the 1st and 2nd reading in February 2021.
“The NEC considered that the bill is a classic case of the Hand of Esau and the Voice of Jacob as it has all the imprimatur of anti-workers forces in the political establishment. The NEC considered Hon. Garba Datti as only a hireling in the plot by his sponsors to disorient, injure, and exterminate Nigeria’s working class.
“Any attempt to move the National Minimum Wage from Exclusive Legislative List to Concurrent Legislative List will make Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations.
“In contrast, the political elites in Nigeria have remained the problem of the Nigerian State who through their actions and inactions have ensured that Nigeria remained divided along ethnic, tribal and religious lines for their own selfish purposes.
“This dividing influence of our political class has become increasingly prominent in recent times. This challenge has even transcended to public institutions which have shifted away from holding and promoting nationalistic views to championing very narrow and hollow ethno-religious sentiments.
“The NEC called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow fifth columnists masquerading as politicians to derail his government by railroading the legislature into removing the national minimum wage from the exclusive to the concurrent list – a move that the global workers solidarity regards as anathema.
The Labour leaders also rejected in its totality,
a bill with the number HB. 1062 sponsored by Honourable Abbas Tajudeen representing Zaria Federal Constituency of Kaduna State, seeking a constitutional amendment to allow for establishment of State Judicial Councils.
“The NEC submitted that the passage of the bill would occasion a further exacerbation of the institutional crisis in our country, constitute an existential threat to our democratic experience and greatly imperil the corporate existence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The NEC also reasoned that given the heterogenous nature of Nigeria in terms of culture, religion, and ethnicity, it would be difficult if not impossible to manage the fallout from the decentralization of our judiciary.”
On the hoarding and artificial scarcity of petrol by marketers in major cities, NEC lamented the great hardship it was imposing on an already suffering and traumatized Nigerian workforce and people who were being punishing and further impoverished in order to satisfy the greed of a few marketers of refined petroleum products.
“After a careful consideration of the issues before it especially in light of their implications to the working-class family and the masses of our people in Nigeria, the NEC decided that there will be a national protest action commencing from the 10th of March 2021 in the Federal Capital Territory and especially to the National Assembly.
“The protest is to make a strong statement that Nigerian workers would not lie low and watch hard fought rights which are of global standards bastardized by opportunistic and narrow thinking politicians;
“The NEC resolved that the national protest action will be concurrently held in all the 36 states of the federation and to the different State Houses of Assembly across Nigeria;
“The NEC decided that should the need arise; it has empowered the National Administrative Council of the NLC to declare and enforce a national strike action especially if the legislators continue on the ruinous path of moving the National Minimum Wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List;
“The NEC condemned and rejected in its entirety the ploy to decentralize Nigeria’s judiciary through the establishment of State Judicial Councils describing the move as unpatriotic, self-serving and an attempt to throw Nigeria into judicial and social chaos;
“On the current hoarding of petrol and the attendant scarcity, the NEC called on relevant regulatory agencies of government to rise up to the protection of the interests of the majority of Nigerians from the exploitative hands of market forces who are bent on making maximal profits from the sufferings of fellow citizens;
“The NEC warned that should the current artificial scarcity persist that the various leadership structures of the NLC should picket petrol stations found to be inflicting pains on Nigerians; and the NEC resolved that all the resolutions and decisions adopted at the emergency meeting should be pursued in collaboration with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the overall interest of all Nigerian workers.”