Workers blast governor over comment on salary, gives condition on minimum wage

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Workers under the auspices of the All Workers Convergence (AWC) have berated Nigerian governors for saying they were not elected to pay salaries alone.

The governors, DAILY POST recalls had last month declared that they were not elected by their people to pay workers’ salaries alone.

But, AWC through its National Coordinator, Comrade Andrew Emelieze said that the recent pronouncement has shown how wicked the governors are.

He said, “The recent pronouncement by the state governors that they were not elected to pay the new national minimum wage and that the national minimum wage should be decentralised confirms how wicked and heartless the Nigerian ruling elites are towards their workers.

“It further portrays a set of rulers that are very hostile to the workers and equally far from those they rule. Little wonder the backlog of arrears of workers’ salaries, gratuities and pensions owed by these governors nationwide. More to the hate speech of these state governors, is the uncertain position of the federal government concerning its promise to implement a living wage structure latest 1st September 2018, as we can see from the recent pronouncement by the minister of labour, Dr Chris Ngige that minimum wage is no longer attainable in the month of September. To us the Nigerian workers, the message from the minister is not for us, we are waiting for our labour leaders to give us their verdict before the generality of workers will decide on what to do. As far as workers are concerned, the September 1st promise is non-negotiable and the minimum wage committee must conclude its work latest September 2018.”

AWC coordinator in the press statement sent to DAILY POST at the weekend in Ibadan, Oyo state capital added that workers were still in doubt if the federal government was genuinely committed to fulfilling its promises to the workers.

He said, “However, the Nigerian workers are expressing worries that there are no signs that our government is genuinely committed to fulfilling her promise to pay in the month of September as agreed with the labour leaders in Nigeria. Moreso, the tripartite committee on minimum wage is yet to submit her reports, not to talk of the executive considering the report and pushing it to the National Assembly for enactment into law. The Nigerian workers’ expectations from government before September 1st is that by now a sincere government would have presented among other things; a wage chat for the minimum and maximum wage, a wage bill and or cost implication and means of appropriation.

“While the Nigerian workers continue to wait patiently for the 30th September deadline for the commencement of the payment of a living wage, workers nationwide are called upon to resist all attempts from any quarter to truncate the agreement between our labour centres ( NLC / TUC / ULC ) and government on the payments of the wage starting from the month of September 2018. We, the Nigerian workers, have suffered enough.

“For too long , we have been financially embarrassed due to shamefully poor emoluments. We have been serving punishment for working in our motherland and we are saying that enough is now enough. We will no longer tolerate slave wage in Nigeria. State governors should not pretend that they don’t know the meaning of a national minimum wage which is the lowest wage to be paid by all employers in a country and that this is determined by the central government as done in other countries following the needed due procedures”.

Emelieze continued by urging the federal government to keep its promise and start paying a living wage latest by this month.

He said, “AWC is calling on the Nigerian government to keep to her promise and start paying a living wage latest by September ending; in line with the proposal of labour N66,500:00, which is less than one per cent of our President’s salary. We also demand a minimum pension of at least half a percentage of the Nigerian President’s salary while maximum wage should not be less than 15% of the President’s salary. Unemployment benefits are to be generated from at least 1% of all workers pay.

“It is the demand of the AWC that the Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, and the United Labour Congress propose an ultimatum for an indefinite national strike action from 30th September 2018 should government refuse to actualize the September promise to pay a new living wage.

“The AWC call on all Nigerian workers(civil and non-civil ) and their industrial unions to prepare for affirmative actions as our government has continued to prove to us that without the workers uprising, workers’ demand will never be met.

“We, the Nigerian workers, demand the immediate withdrawal of the hate speech by the state governors that “they were not elected to pay the new minimum wage” and that any state governor who feels that he does not have the capacity to pay the new minimum wage or does not possess the intellectual sophistry on how to generate revenue in his state and pay the wage should resign before September 30th 2018.

“The AWC condemns in totality the situation where any state governor in Nigeria is owing to her state/local government workers beyond one month salary. The labour centres in such states are called upon to stop the suffering of the workers by immediately embarking on an industrial action as we have seen in the Ekiti state example.

“The AWC condemn in absolute terms and postulate that we shall no longer tolerate the delay in the payment of the retirees” gratuities and pensions to the extent that some state governors now owe years of pension arrears and has not paid gratuities in the past five years such that the pensioners are compelled to take such governors to court in order to get their gratuities as we have seen in Oyo state . We call on the labour centres and workers in such states to declare a solidarity strike and down tools on any day such court case holds and equally mobilise workers to join the pensioners throughout the court sessions.

“The AWC rejects and condemns the payment of half salaries to officers of the Nigerian Police Force in most of the state commands across the federation and in some cases the unexplainable slashing of police officers’ salaries. We also call for a discontinuity in the delay of the promotions for all workers in the military and paramilitary.

“We stand with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, in their, demands for proper funding of our educational sector. Subsequently, we call on the Nigerian government to accede to their demands else we will join them in sympathy strike any time they embark on any industrial action nationwide.

“We the Nigerian workers have observed with dismay all forms of emergency programmes and projects being hastily executed by governments at all levels, with some promising all forms of temporary jobs, while some state governors and the federal government are securing loans few months to the end of their tenures. Our fears about all these is that they appear political and also an attempt by the ruling party to bribe the electorate and also divert funds towards the 2019 general elections. To this end,the Nigerian workers call on the federal government not to approve any foreign loan facility to all state governors. The Nigerian workers plead with the World Bank, the IMF and all foreign financial institutions not to grant any loan facility to the Nigerian government until after the 2019 general elections. Furthermore, the Nigerian people should work towards legislation that will ensure that any loan incurred by any government is payable within the tenure of that government and that in the near future all foreign loans be abolished.

“Our attention is drawn also to the high cost of medical care in Nigeria, to the extent that patients who don’t have money to pay in our government hospitals are not attended to and left to die even within the hospital premises while some are returned home to die in pains. It is observed that most of our teaching hospitals have devised automated electronic card system given to patients/carers to be loaded fully with cash and credited to the hospital account before a sick person can be attended to. Our pains here is that the possession of money should not be a condition for citizen’s health care needs. Government must be made to properly fund the health sector. In line with these, the Nigerian workers call on the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), the Medical and Health Workers Union , Nurses and Midwives Union and all other industrial union in our health sector including also the World Health Organisation (WHO) to kick against this cash for health syndrome in the Nigerian health sector.

“The AWC commend the Nigerian workers for their perseverance and survival instinct within this hard and trying times. We acknowledge the fact that things are really very tough for the Nigerian workers and masses. Moreso, as it appears that our ruling elites have abandoned governance only to be tracing shadows as seen in the unending war within the Nigerian ruling class. In all these, it is the Nigerian people that pay the price. Workers are however called upon not to despair and that very soon, through our collective struggles, we shall be out of this condition.

“We commend, in a special way, some Nigerian workers and their industrial unions which had sustained the struggle through their bold and inspiring industrial strike action across the federation. Worthy to note are those of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and RATTAWU whereby their members shut down the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA ) and the Federal Radio Corporations of Nigeria ( FRCN ) stations nationwide over poor conditions of service and poor wages. Federal workers at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja and their respective unions, like the Nigerian Civil Service Union (NCSU), Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations (AUPCTRE) are also worthy of commendation as workers shut down the office of the head of service of the federation and the federal secretariat in protest against poor wage and terrible work environment. The recent Ekiti workers’ uprising to demand the payment of backlog of salary arrears and the shutting down of the Ekiti State Secretariat is also commendable.

“The AWC shall continue to salute the gallantry of the July 2nd 2018 protest by the officers of the Nigerian Police Force in Maiduguri and we give our red salute to some officers of the Nigerian Army, who had recently protested against poor working conditions in Maiduguri. The Nigerian labour movement, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the civil society as a whole are called upon by the Nigerian workers to rise and take up the case of the protesting soldiers in order to prevent them from being victimised by the military bureaucracy.

“The NLC and the TUC are equally commended for their recent moves to probe into loans incurred by a few Nigerians from our banks worth over five trillion Naira and have refused to repay as published by AMCON. Nigerians are waiting and ready to support labour in any action taken to recover the borrowed money and in any other action called by labour in public interest.

“The Nigerian workers are called upon to go all out to register and obtain their Permanent Voters Card, PVC, in readiness to vote in leaders that will enhance their well-being and productivity. The Nigerian workers are called upon this time around to ensure that the peoples’ vote count.

“The AWC condoles with workers and people of the world, especially those facing challenges of war, natural disaster, insurgencies, poverty etc. We call for world peace and more involvement of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the plight of workers globally. As regards general insecurity in Nigeria, our labour centres are called to the rescue through the issuance of an ultimatum to the government to secure Nigeria or face mass action. To the Internally Displaced People in different camps across the federation, the AWC calls on government to improve on the quality of assistance given to them”.

Emelieze concluded by urging the workers to wait for September 30th deadline for the commencement of the new minimum wage, warning that, failure of the government to commence the payment will lead to a nationwide strike.

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