May Day – Nigerian Workers Groan Under Economic Hardship

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As organised labour in the country joins its counterparts around the world to celebrate this year’s May Day, Nigerian workers have decried what they described as the harsh economic condition.

They called on the federal government to speed up the review of the minimum wage from N18,000 to N56,000. During last year’s May Day celebration, the organised Labour represented by the Nigeria Lab our Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had made a presentation of N56,000 new minimum wage. But one year after, the federal government is yet to set up a tripartite committee to begin negotiation on the proposed minimum wage.

The workers are also celebrating this year’s workers’ day at a time most state governments are owing their workers backlog of salaries. They lamented that the nonpayment of salaries has further impoverished them as well as worsen their economic condition. According to the Secretary General of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade Alade Lawal, not fewer than 19 states currently owe their workers backlog of salaries and pension. Lawal said, “It appears that some of them are very wicked and deliberately impoverished Nigerian workers.

You can imagine a state like Osun, up till last year, the senior workers have always been paid half salary so that governor will say it is paying salary which is not. The state which claims it is paying is Ogun and in the last 8 months, there have been deductions in the workers’ salary. So, as far as we are concerned we will say such state is owing”. The workers also lamented that the current N18,000 minimum wage was no longer sustainable with the present economic challenge. Speaking ahead of today’s workers’ day celebration, deputy president of NLC, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, hinted that the workers will avail themselves of the opportunity provided by the May Day to push for a review of the minimum wage.

Deal of the day

He said, “We shall use this opportunity to renew the call for the review of the national minimum wage that is overdue for review considering the current economic trend. Inflation has increased, the naira has lost its value and the current minimum wage has been completely eroded.

Therefore, the need and urgency for a call for the review of the current minimum wage.” He said the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘Labour relations in economic recession: an appraisal’ provides the working class the opportunity to engage the government on how to revive the economy Adeyemi said, “As the theme of this year’s May Day suggests, this is a time for us as working class to look at present economic situation that has witnessed negative downturn and the reality of the moment.

“We need to critically look at the opportunity afforded us to work towards achieving economic revival and chart a way to a national rebirth, economic recovery and advocate for the engendering of socio-economic policies that are pro-poor”.
Lending his voice to the call for the implementation of the new minimum wage, national president of Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporation and Government Owned Companies (SSASCGOC) , Comrade Mohammed Yunusa, in his massage to Nigerian workers, said corruption can be reduce to the barest minimum if workers in Nigeria are well paid.

The labour leader also urged government to first understand that not treating workers well is a problem. On his part, the President of United Labour Congress (ULC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, said today’s May Day celebration would be used to agitate for increment in minimum wage.

By Taiwo Ogunmola-Omilani, Ahuraka Isah, Michael Oche, Andrew Essien and Kauthar Anumba-Khaleel

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