Friday, September 28, 2018

Nigerian Workers Begin Strike Over New Minimum Wage
By Mustapha Suleiman, Ismail Mudashir, Clement A. Oloyede (Abuja), Kayode Ekundayo (Lagos) & Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna)  |

Sep 27, 2018 4:14 AM
Nigeria Daily Trust

No need for strike, we’ll reconvene Oct 4, FG tells Labour

The Organized Labour yesterday resolved to commence its planned warning strike today even as it accused the Federal Government of failing to mention a figure as new minimum wage for workers in the country.

The Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige had met with the labour leaders yesterday where he assured them that the Tripartite Committee will reconvene on October 4, 2018 for further negotiations.

Speaking to journalists after the meeting attended by leaders of the NLC, TUC and affiliate unions, Ngige said the decisions taken by the tripartite committee will be passed to the federal executive council for approval.

But the NLC President Ayuba Wabba insisted that the position of the union, which was taken prior to the deadlocked meeting with Ngige, still stands.

Wabba had on Wednesday morning said all workers will begin a nation-wide warning strike over the refusal of the federal government to reconvene the meeting of the committee on minimum wage to enable it conclude its work.

The NLC president said the strike action was in compliance with the decision of the various organs of the organized labour which endorsed the 14-day ultimatum served on the federal government by members of the labour who are members of the committee on the new minimum wage.

He said: “Industrial unions, state councils, all worker organistions and our civil society allies have been directed to step up mobilization of their members. All public and private institutions, offices, banks, schools, public and private business premises including filling stations are to remain shut till further notice.”

Wabba recalled that the National Minimum Wage Committee had commenced work in March 2018 with timelines to arriving at a new national minimum wage in August/ September 2018.

He said, to meet this deadline, the committee worked assiduously and meticulously, but was shocked by the decision of government to adjourn the meeting of the committee indefinitely to enable consultations by the FG team.

Wabba said the federal government’s decision was against the principle of collective bargaining.

“Left with no other option, members of the Organised Labour served a 14-day notice on the Government to reconvene the meeting of the committee to enable it conclude its work. These are clear signs that the government is not ready for a new national minimum wage. It has only been taking workers for a ride,” Wabba said.

He added that the warning strike is a precursor to the main strike which will be the mother of all strikes.

The Organised Labour is demanding an upward review from N18,000 to N56,000 as minimum wage. But the government said state governments have not been able to agree on a figure.

Ngige had earlier told State House reporters after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that there was a communication gap between them and the organized labour, hence the threat for the warning strike.

“Communication gap was discovered this morning; a breach in communication gap. They said they wrote a letter to me and the SGF but I didn’t see it,” he said. The meeting however deadlocked.

We’re awaiting directive – NUPENG

The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) workers said yesterday night that the tanker drivers were still awaiting a directive from the national leadership of the union.

According to the National Chairman of NUPENG’s Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PDP) unit, Akanni Oladiti, the drivers would not embark on strike without a message from the national leadership of the union.

“As you know, NUPENG is a member of Trade Union Congress, but we will still have to rely on directives from our leaders,” he said.

Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, Comrade Chris Nkoro told Daily Trust yesterday on phone that the union would meet in a week’s time to decide whether to join the strike.

He, however, said the union would not be part of the strike until the scheduled meeting is held next week.

Judiciary workers direct members to shut down courts

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has directed members nationwide to comply with the warning strike by the organised Labour to press home their demand for a new minimum wage.

President of JUSUN, Comrade Marwan Mustapha Adamu, who gave the directive, said “As an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), all members of JUSUN are to stay back at home from Wednesday midnight, 26th September, 2018. Also, all courts are expected to remain shut until further directive from the national Secretariat of our great union.

“A committee in conjunction with the NLC and other stakeholders was put in place to go round to ensure compliance with the directive.”

We’re joining strike – Bank, insurance workers

The president of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Fianacial Institutions (ASSBIFI), Mrs Oyinkan Olasnaoye, said yesterday that the union members had been mobilised for the strike called for by the organised labour over the new minimum wage.

“We are part of Trade Union Congress (TUC) and as a responsible affliate, we are going to participate in the strike that will commence today.

The Trade Union Congress President (TUC) Comrade Bobboi Kaigama told Daily Trust on phone yesterday that the union and all its affiliates would join the strike.

“We are definitely joining the strike action. We have given blanket directive to all TUC affiliates to comply. I enjoin our 27 affiliates to make the strike effective,” he said.

The National President of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) Comrade Nuhu Ogirima told Daily Trust via phone yesterday that the union will proceed on strike as directed by the Labour centre.

He said, “The union may be compelled to continue the strike in the event of the resolution of the minimum wage debacle should the federal government refuse to  address the peculiar concerns of our union on the plight of the Colleges  of Education on funding and promotion issues.”

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