Human rights activist Femi Falana (SAN) has called on the organised labour to “fight” any governor who is unwilling to pay the N30,000 minimum wage.
Speaking at the 12th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Abuja, Falana said the first part of the new minimum wage battle had been won; the second is to compel state governments to pay.
“Labour should unite to fight any governor who may not want to pay the N30,000 minimum wage. States should cut their expenses and engage in income generating ventures.
“As for the workers, let the general elections be the last time that it will be left for our leaders to decide. Workers should come together. They should be the one to decide,” Falana said.
The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, reiterated the urgency for the need to pass the minimum wage bill by the National Assembly.
“For millions of workers, an increase in the minimum wage is urgently needed to ensure a living wage that covers the cost of basic needs for a family.
“Workers must be able to freely bargain collectively through their union for wages that reflect the tone value of the work they do and for decent working conditions.
“On January 29, this year, the House of Representatives passed into law a new national minimum wage of N30,000. It is expected that upon the passage by the Senate, a conference of the two chambers of the National Assembly will harmonise the bill and send the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act to Mr. President for signing into law.
“We appreciate and commend the House of Representative for the expedited action taken on the new national minimum wage bill,” he said.
Wabba commended the Federal Government for releasing about N1.9 trillion to states for bailout, budget support and Paris club refund.
He said: “The release of about N1.9 trillion in the form of bailout, budget support and Paris Club Refund assisted greatly in addressing the non-payment of salary, pensions and gratuity in many states especially worker-friendly governors. In some few instances, the funds were diverted and the situation has not been fully addressed.”
Wabba said the economy given its vast potential, amid diverse challenges, showed some promises in recent times.
“According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.81 per cent in real terms in the third quarter of 2018.
“This is slightly better than the growth of 1.17 per cent achieved in the third quarter of 2017. The recent GDP growth and increase in internally generated revenue are signs of the steady recovery of our economy from recession. Despite these results, our economy remains largely import driven and dependent. The growth in the size of our economy – the biggest in Africa – is still non-inclusive as the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen. Though described as mixed, our economy is essentially rent-seeking and still suffers from systemic distortions,’’ he said.