Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Nigerian Labour Blames Government for Non-Payment of New Wage

Labour blames govt for non-payment of new wage

Tuesday, 05 July 2011 00:00
From Collins Olayinka (Abuja) and John Ogiji (Minna)From Collins Olayinka (Abuja) and John Ogiji (Minna)
Nigerian Guardian

ASUU seeks mass action, decries planned fuel price increase

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has chided the Federal Government for not starting the payment of the new minimum wage.

To compel the government to begin the payment, the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) has urged all its members across the country to support the proposed strike by the Labour union at the end of the workers’ two-week ultimatum.

While receiving the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, at Labour House in Abuja, the President of NLC, Abdulwaheed Omar, observed that in 2004 when the minimum wage was moved from N1,700 to N5,500, the Federal Government did not only implement it on time but it went ahead to move the minimum wage up to N7,500 as against the N5,500 contained in the law and even started implementing the wage before the private sector.

He appealed to the minister to intervene by speaking to some of the governors who are insisting they cannot afford to pay the new wage bill.

Earlier, Wogu explained that he came to the Labour House to solicit the support of the NLC in his second coming as the Minister of Labour.

He explained that he saw no trouble in government implementing the wage, saying government was already paying its lowest workers N17,000 and paying the N1,000 differential would not be a problem.

Wogu was, however, not clear on whether the government would pay arrears on the minimum wage when it finally takes effect.

He also promised to strengthen the Department of Labour Inspection while dismissing the notion that Labour inspection in the country was neglected.

Speaking in Minna yesterday after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the Federal University of Technology, ASUU National President, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, said that the union was astonished that the country’s political leaders could demonstrate a complete lack of willingness to honour valid agreements.

Awuzie said that it was more regrettable and worrisome that the matter of the national minimum wage was the subject of an act of the National Assembly, stressing that “if our government cannot implement their own laws duly passed by them in their parliament, we wonder what else can be beyond them.”

He expressed dismay that while they were finding it difficult to implement the N18,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers, “they engage regularly in increasing their own salaries outside the framework of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.

“ASUU National Executive Council (NEC) therefore believes that the ultimatum is just and needs the support of all Nigerians. As an affiliate of NLC, ASUU is in full support of the ultimatum and is mobilising all its members across the country to support the strike if the government at all levels failed to honour the agreement.”

On the call by the governors’ forum for fuel price increase as a condition for the implementation of the new minimum wage, ASUU said that the call was not only wicked and insensitive but a ploy to avoid assuming their responsibilities to the Nigerian people, saying that “it is instructive to observe that no one who ran for political office in the last elections and who are now members of the governors’ forum canvassed an increase in fuel prices during their campaigns to the Nigerian people.”

ASUU maintained that their call now for an increase in fuel prices was a confirmation that they obtained the mandate to govern through deceit and therefore called on all Nigerians to say ‘NO’ to this betrayal by participating in a mass action that may be called by organised Labour and patriotic organisations.

ASUU also condemned the recent increase in the electricity tariff from N8.00 to N14.00 per unit, pointing out that this increase was insensitive and callous, especially when it was understood that the increase was meant to assure huge profits for those whom government would soon hand over the public sector electricity companies as part of privatisation programme.

ASUU attributed the post-election violence in some parts of the country to activities of some desperate politicians who were determined to rig elections and further called on President Goodluck Jonathan to set up the political offences tribunal and make rigging of elections a capital offence because “it is worse than murder.”

ASUU pointed out that the level of alienation in the country was higher than ever and this was largely responsible for the spate of bombings across the country, adding that “ many individuals and groups are resorting to self-help methods in responding to the anomie experienced. The bomb blasts in different parts of the country in recent times, the continuing war in the Niger Delta, the rising incidence of kidnapping across the country provide illustration.

“ASUU wishes to observe that the increasing number of self-help methods to which an increasing number of people and groups are resorting is a direct consequence of the state of the arbitrariness, misrule and abuse of the people by members of Nigeria’s ruling class.”

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