May Day: NLC wants 90,000 as minimum wages as police disrupts rally in Lagos

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday put the Federal government on notice that it is at the verge of proposing a N90, 000 minimum wage for workers in the country, a position it hopes to negotiate with the incoming administration and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association.

The NLC, in packaging its proposal for a wage hike for workers, believes that the current N18, 000 minimum wage can no longer sustain the average Nigerian worker in the face of inflation.

The Comrade Joe Ajaero-led faction of Labour dropped the hint yesterday in Lagos, during the ‘May Day’ rally held in front of the National Stadium in Surulere.

The workers on rally were however denied access to the National stadium, as the police blocked the entrance with patrol vans and armoured tanks.

According to Ajaero, there is the need for the incoming administration to be put on notice that it is now five years since the N18, 000 minimum wage was introduced, adding that the N90,000 being proposed is modest based on the unstable micro economic environment, naira devaluation and high inflation.

Predictably, Ajaero condemned what he described as the unprovoked siege by the Police “on the peaceful gathering of workers at the venue of this year’s Workers’ Day celebration.” The labour leader cautioned the Inspector General of Police to learn from the misadventure of his predecessors by ensuring that he operates within the ambits of the law.

“We have a fundamental right to peaceful assembly and information. The IG should know that no one can intimidate us not to exercise our fundamental rights,” Ajaero declared. Some of the unions present at the rally included Nigerian Union of Railwaymen (NUR); National Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers (NUPENG); National Union of Shop and Distributive Employees; National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE); National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions; National Union of Lottery Agents and Employees; Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association among others. The labour leadership enjoined the incoming administration to protect the freedom of associations and workers to stand and defend their rights.

It also called on the government to commence reforms in the Oil and Gas sector through the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, which it believes will create a favourable environment for private investments in the sector and by extension create more jobs.

According to Ajaero, the government should emulate countries such as India, China and Indonesia where the textile industry has created jobs for thousands of their citizens.

Comrade Ajaero stated that the incoming government should not pay lip service to the revival of the textile industry as previous governments had made similar promises which they failed to actualise.

He stressed that the incoming government should also revive the power sector as it will go a long way in boosting production, adding that the privatization of Power Holding Company Nigeria (PHCN) has not provided the much needed steady supply of electricity.

While commending the Nigerian Army and other allied forces for their achievements in the rescue of 500 girls and women from the Sambisa Forest recently, Ajaero reiterated the need for the release of the Chibok school girls.

The Chairman Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Tokumbo Korodo, in his remarks, said the ‘May Day’ event with theme “Workers in quest of good governance” is apt because good governance promotes equity, participation, transparency, accountability and the rule of law in a manner that is effective, efficient and enduring.

According to him, the greatest threat to good governance is corruption, insecurity and poverty all of which undermine transparency, security, participation and fundamental freedoms. Korodo, therefore, challenged the President-elect, Gen Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) to hold true to his campaign of change in the way government is run and how it extends its dividends to the citizens.

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