Minimum Wage: NLC Calls for Nationwide Strike

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has instructed its members to prepare for a nationwide strike on October 16 following its failure to reach an agreement with the Nigerian government.

The federal government and the organised labour failed to reach an agreement over relativity and consequential adjustments for the implementation of the new N30,000 minimum wage more than six months after it was signed into law in April.

The workforce body is demanding a 29 percent salary increase for officers on salary level 07 to 14 and 24 percent adjustment for officers on salary grade level 15 to 17.

The government on its part, proposed an 11 percent salary increase for officers on grade level 07 to 14 and 6.5 percent adjustment for workers of grade level 15 to 17.

But in a circular dispatched to its state councils and signed by the General Secretary of the NLC, Emmanuel Ugboaja, the body said the preparation to down tools was in case the proposed negotiations between it and the government slated for October 15 yields no fruit.

“You will recall that a joint Communiqué was issued by the NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Committee (JNPSNC) stating that two weeks from the date of the said communiqué, industrial harmony could not be guaranteed in the country should an agreement not be reached with the Federal Government on the Consequential Adjustment of Salaries as a result of the New National Minimum Wage of N30,000,” the circular said.

“You are hereby directed to coordinate preparations with TUC and JNPSNC in your States for necessary industrial action should the time expire without an agreement as contained in the circular,” it added.

However, in an interview with journalists in Lagos on Sunday, the Ekiti State governor, Mr Kayode Fayemi said that any strike by workers would be an exercise in futility.

Fayemi, who is also the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) made an appeal to the workers to take into consideration the country’s economic situation before embarking on industrial action.

He said, “We don’t want workers to down tools, but we made it clear during the tripartite negotiation that an increase in the National Minimum Wage is not tantamount to a general wage review.

“The fact that we moved people, who were below N30,000 to N30,000 and wherever they should be on the scale, should not automatically mean that we must increase the salaries of people on Level 17, who are on N400,000. It is a minimum wage law; it is not a general wage law.

“Yes, if you promote levels 05 or 06, they may go over what the current level 07 is earning. So, that calls for a consequential adjustment, but that adjustment should not go over levels 08 and 09.

“The Federal Government has even agreed to do nine per cent for levels 07 to 12 and five per cent for levels 13 and above, but they said no and insisted on 45 per cent.

“Where is Nigeria going to find the money? I mean the economy is in doldrums. Whether we openly admit or not, everyone knows. If you have an economy that earmarks N2.4 trillion for debt servicing, then what are we talking about?

“So, I hope good sense will prevail and that people will be able to convince labour that it is a futile effort if they do so because Nigeria cannot pay what it doesn’t have.” He added.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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