Minimum wage: Labour insists on strike

The organised labour has reiterated its resolve to go ahead with its proposed nationwide indefinite strike and other industrial actions on Tuesday, November 6, 2018; saying it will be a total shutdown of the country.

The labour unions said at the end of their meeting in Lagos on Friday night that the only thing that can prevent the strike is an immediate commencement of implementation of the N30, 000 national minimum wage agreed upon by the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiating Committee.

The labour unions in a communique issued by the Joint Central Working Committee (CWC) of all registered trade unions in Nigeria, further advised Nigerians to start stocking food and other necessities of life “as workers will ensure a total shutdown of the country.”

The communique was signed by the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni; President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bala Bobboi Kaigama and President of United Labour Congress, Comrade Joe Ajero.

It reads in part: “The Joint CWC advises Nigerians to start stocking food and other necessities of life as workers will ensure a total shutdown of the country.

“In lieu of this, the Joint CWC has directed all affiliate unions, state councils, civil society allies, the informal sector and other friends of workers and lovers of democracy to commence immediate mobilization of their members for a total shut down of the country from November 6, 2018.”

The unions similarly condemned government for its design/plan to clamp down on Labour via selective and erroneous invocation of the ‘no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act, noting that the right to strike is both a human and trade union right and cannot be abridged as it is what distinguishes a worker from a slave; “there is nothing new about this clause as it has been in our statutes for over forty years.

“Finally, the Joint CWC urges every worker in Nigeria and our allies in the civil society to remain steadfast and unwavering in our collective quest for justice for ourselves and for the masses of our people. Organised Labour will not be cowed or deterred from fighting for our rights by any frivolous and mischievous court action and processes.

“In line with our resolve to ensure total compliance with the nationwide strike action, the Joint CWC also directs that the strike action of November 6, 2018 should be complemented by daily picketing by workers all over the country.
“Furthermore, we call on the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to resist mounting pressure to recant their stand on the N30, 000 agreed new minimum wage. We believe that the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), a reputable body that represents organised employers, will always stand by the truth,” the communiqué concludes.
Meanwhile a civil society organsation, Network for Accountability and Transparency Crusade, has called on the organised labour to respect the court order restraining it from going ahead with the strike.
The group in a statement signed by its national coordinator, Dr. Roland Giwa noted that they there were allegations that the intended strike was politically motivated.

While urging labour leaders to rise above such personal interest and return to the negotiation table, they maintained that government has indeed put forward tangible explanation why the N30,000 minimum wage demanded by the labour unions was not feasible due to the precarious state of the nation’s finances.

According to the statement, going by its antecedents as a pan Nigerian organisation, organised labour should be the last group ever to disobey a valid court order in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world, and should therefore jettison the intended plan to defy a valid court order.

“The organised labour in Nigeria has been known to stand for truth. They have been known to protect the interest of workers in general and not a select few. At the risk of portraying the organised labour in Nigeria as a dictatorial organisation, and one with contempt for the rule of law, the labour leaders at the negotiating table should not allow the smell of filthy enticement make them lose their sense of dignity and that of the millions of workers that they represent.

“The Nigerian workers have been subjected to untold hardship over the years, and to think that the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has introduced measures towards alleviating their hardship should be commended and encouraged instead,” the group said.

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