Tinubu should have given us Democracy Day gift – NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said President Bola Tinubu should have used the opportunity of the 2024 Democracy Day celebration to harmonize the two minimum wage figures submitted to him and announced a new minimum wage in favour of workers in the country. (TNG) reports Acting President of NLC, Comrade Prince Adewale Adeyanju said this on Wednesday while reacting to President Tinubu’s Democracy Day speech in which he said an executive would soon be sent to the National Assembly (NASS) to enshrine what has been agreed upon to be paid workers as minimum wage.

Recall that representative of the federal government in the Tripartite Committee had proposed N62,000 as minimum wage, at the end of the sitting of the committee, involving the Organised Private Sector (OPS).

As Nigeria marked Democracy Day, the NLC said its demand for the new national minimum wage remains N250,000.

According to Comrade Adeyanju, the union appreciates the President’s commitment to those fine democratic ideals which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups.

“We had expected Mr. President to have used this understanding as one of those who was in the vanguard of the struggle with us around the nation to rescue Nigeria from the hands of the military to harmonize the two figures submitted to him by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and masses. It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift.

“Our demand still remains N250,000 only and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process. We are, therefore, surprised at the submission of Mr President over a supposed agreement.

“We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC. There was none and it is important that we let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage,” he said.

Adeyanju also noted that the union had not seen a copy of the document submitted to Mr President and it would not accept any doctored document.

He, however, reaffirmed the union’s belief that the president on whose table the Tripartite Committee’s report presently resides would prepare an Executive Bill which content would reflect the true demand of Nigerian workers.

“We think that this is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and masses.

“That is by shunning the pieces of advice that may be coming from those whose intentions are continuously focused on hurting the poor and struggling workers of Nigeria.

“Mr President should not allow these individuals and groups to sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty,” he said.

According to him, the president’s advisers obviously did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed.

“It is, therefore, important that Mr President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent.

“Series of media propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government.

“Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the government,” he alleged.

He added the NLC remained assured that the president’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses.

He also noted that NLC never agreed on a five-year duration of the minimum wage Act though acknowledged that the president mentioned five years or less.

According to Adeyanju, the union also agreed that inflation should be pegged at a level for certain amount to be agreed as minimum wage. This is to bring clarity to what the report should contain.

“Once again, we reiterate that it will be extremely difficult for Nigerian workers to accept any nationa minimum wage figure that approximates to a starvation wage.

“We cannot be working and yet remain in abject poverty.

“We seek justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians and this we hope would also drive the actions of Mr. President who promised a Living Wage to Nigerian workers.

“This is an opportunity to show that he listens to Nigerians as he promised,” he said.

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