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Labour Declares Nationwide Strike on Monday over Minimum Wage

Labour Declares Nationwide Strike on Monday over Minimum Wage

Members of the organised labour, on Friday, declared a nationwide indefinite strike over the Federal Government’s refusal to raise the proposed minimum wage from N60,000.

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, disclosed this at a press conference in the Labour House, Abuja.

Ajaero said the strike would begin by midnight on Sunday, June 2, 2024.

The NLC leader, who read from a jointly prepared speech alongside his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Festus Osifo, expressed what it described as, “grave concern and disappointment” over the Federal Government’s failure to conclude and pass into law a new National Minimum Wage Act and reverse the hike in electricity tariff to N65/kWh.

Ajaero noted that the Friday meeting between the government and labour further demonstrated the unseriousness and apparent contempt with which the Nigerian state holds the demands of Nigerian workers and people.

“No governor was present and ministers absent except the Minister of State for Labour and Employment who doubles as a conciliator. There was none present on the side of the government with the appropriate authority to commit them to any outcome; in essence, the government abandoned the meeting. We consider this disdainful and shows a lack of commitment to a successful National Minimum Wage negotiation exercise,” he said.

Ajaero noted that during the last May Day celebration on May 1, 2024, organised labour issued an ultimatum to the Federal Government, demanding the conclusion of the minimum wage negotiation by the end of the month.

“However, there has been no significant progress or commitment from the government towards meeting this demand.

“We also demanded a reversal of the last hike in electricity tariff to N225/kwh back to N65/kWh and stoppage of the apartheid categorization of consumers into Bands. We carried out a nationwide one-day protest on the 13th day of May 2024 giving the government until the last day of this month to take action but the government has not entirely shown any positive response despite the national outrage at this insensitive hike.

“Nigerian workers, who are the backbone of our nation’s economy, deserve fair and decent wages that reflect the current economic realities,” Ajaero said.

He further said it was disheartening that despite the repeated calls and the clear ultimatum issued, the government continues to neglect its responsibility to the workforce.

Ajaero also said the government, rather than engage in a dialogue persistently raised its attack dogs to seek to denigrate and intimidate trade union leaders.

“It continued to remain our belief that the people ought to be the only reason for governance and nothing else. The government must, therefore, seek the welfare of the people at all times and refusal to put the people first compels all patriots to take the right step in assisting the government govern well.

“The hike in electricity tariff impoverished further the already suffering people and denies them the right to decent living. Instead of taking remedial action or engaging in a meaningful dialogue, Nigerians were visited with a barrage of the usual propaganda,” he stated.

On the next step, Ajaero said, “In light of this persistent inaction, we, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress hereby issue a notice of commencement of an indefinite nationwide strike to the Federal Government.

“We reiterate that since the National Minimum Wage negotiation exercise has not been concluded and the agreed wage passed into law; the hike in electricity tariff not reversed and categorization of consumers into Bands not stopped as demanded; Nigerian workers are compelled by these failures to embark on an indefinite nationwide industrial action beginning on Monday, the 3rd of June, 2024 to press home our demands.

“The NLC and TUC are united in this cause, and we call on all our affiliates and state councils, Civil Society Organisations, market men and women and the general populace to prepare for a decisive action. We cannot and will not accept any further delays or excuses. The welfare of Nigerian workers and people is non-negotiable, and we are ready to take all necessary steps to ensure that their rights are protected and their voices heard.”

Earlier on Friday, talks on minimum wage between the Federal Government and organised labour hit a brick wall when the government failed to shift grounds on the N60,000 it proposed during the last meeting.

Recall that the NLC and TUC had given a May 31, 2024 ultimatum on the new minimum wage.

On Tuesday, talks between the Federal Government and organised labour broke down after the government and organised private sector raised their offers to N60,000.

The government added N3,000 to its initial offer of N57,000 proposed last week, taking the total figure to N60,000.

It was dismissed by labour at the meeting.

At the meeting, labour again lowered its demand by removing N3,000 from the N497,000 it proposed last week, pegging the new proposal at N494,000.

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