13th July, 2011
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC has vowed to go on with next weekâ€™s warning strike over the refusal of state governors to pay the N18, 000 minimum wage, saying it has exhausted all avenues to make the governors pay the new wage.
The NLC said there was no going back on the warning strike as labour was ready to take the bull by the horns and ensure that the state governors complied with the law compelling them to pay the N18,000 minimum wage.
Assistant Organising Secretary, NLC, Comrade Denja Yaqub told P.M.NEWS this morning that the timing for the strike was not wrong, saying that since labour had exhausted all avenues to make the governors pay the minimum wage, strike became the next option.
He lamented that the NLC had spent the last two years negotiating the payment of the N18, 000 minimum wage all to no avail, saying that he believed that industrial action would certainly compel the governors to pay the new wage package.
Yaqub said President Goodluck Jonathan signed the new Minimum Wage Act into law since March and that the state governors were employing delay tactics so that they would not pay the new package.
According to him, all stakeholders were carried along during the negotiation and in the determination of the N18, 000 minimum wage packages, including those in the private sector, who agreed that they would also abide by the minimum wage law.
He stated that during the negotiation, some governors even said they could pay N44, 000 as minimum wage and wondered why some of them are no longer ready to pay it.
He added that the NLC had perfected arrangement to ensure that the strike was totally successful.
Also, Nigerians have backed the NLC over the new minimum wage, saying that they fully support the strike.
Human rights activist and lawyer, Bamidele Aturu said he was in total support of the strike and that it was shameful for the governors to say they could not pay the N18, 000 minimum wage.
â€œI am in support of the strike because it is shameful that we are still deliberating on whether we can pay the N18, 000 minimum wage or not when legislators and their girlfriends spend millions of naira monthly.
â€œThere should not have been warning strike; the strike should have gone on permanently until the governors comply with the law to pay the N18, 000 minimum wage. Why should the NLC say the strike will last for only three days? It should be permanent. It is very unfortunate that the governors said they canâ€™t pay the new wage,â€ he lamented.
Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo said he was in total support of the strike, saying that he would help to mobilise Nigerians to join the strike as it was shameful that the state governors could not pay a paltry N18, 000 minimum wage which had already been signed into law.
â€œI will urge the civil society to join the strike because the governors are breaking a pact with the Nigerian people. The minimum wage act has already been made a law and they cannot back out of it.
â€œLet them use part of the money they are stealing in their states to pay the minimum wage. It is a shame they are saying they canâ€™t pay the new package,â€ he said.
National Public Secretary, Afenifere Renewal Group, Mr. Yinka Odumakin also backed the NLCâ€™s proposed strike, saying it was the right of the Nigerian workers to earn the minimum wage, adding that payment of the new minimum wage was long overdue.
â€œHow many litres of kerosene can N18, 000 even buy? In this society, senators earn $1.7 million per annum while House of Representatives members earn $1.3 million per annum. It is wicked that the governors cannot pay the minimum wage package.
â€œNigerians should support the strike. If the Federal Government can open the treasury to finance the last election, there should be no excuse for not paying the new minimum wage,â€ he stated.
Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay said in as much as he did not support strike as it would paralyse the system, â€œthe NLC has a reason to go on strike. It is the lack of patriotism by the governors that is causing this. If governors said they canâ€™t pay the minimum wage, let them pay themselves the N18, 000 minimum wage per month.â€