Labour set for showdown with FG, rejects plan to reduce salaries

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The Organised Labour appears set for a showdown with the Federal Government as they have condemned and rejected the government’s plan to cut down salaries of Nigerian workers.

This follows the recent statement credited to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, in which she revealed the Federal Government’s plan to reduce the cost of governance by cutting down workers’ salaries.

This disclosure was contained in a statement issued by the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Waba, on Wednesday in Abuja, in which he expressed shock and noted that the plan was tantamount to a mass suicide wish for Nigerian workers.

What the NLC President is saying

Waba in his statement said, “The minister also allegedly directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), to immediately review the salaries of civil servants as well as the number of federal agencies in the country.

It is most unthinkable that the government would be contemplating to unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time.

He added that “The question to ask is which salary is the government planning to slash? It certainly cannot be the meager national minimum wage of N30, 000, which right now cannot even buy a bag of rice.”

The NLC President said that he believed the proposed salary slash was certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries that some state governors were still dragging their feet to pay.

He said that the multiple devaluations of the Naira in a short time, and the prevailing high inflation rate in Nigeria had negatively impacted on the salaries earned by Nigerian workers across the board.

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He said, “Nigerian workers are only surviving by hair’s breadth. Indeed, Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs.

“It is, therefore, extremely horrendous for a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pronounce salary slash for Nigerian workers currently. This call for salary slash by Mrs Zainab Ahmed is tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish, for Nigerian workers.”

While demanding an immediate retraction and apology by the Minister of Finance, the NLC president, however, said that if there was any salary that needed serious slashing, it was the humongous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political office holders in Nigeria, who did extraordinarily little but collected so much.

Wabba said, “Workers generate surplus value and revenue for the government. We do not constitute any unnecessary cost or burden to governance. It is also important to make the point that salaries are products of contracts governed by laws. They cannot be unilaterally adjusted.”

This move is not only at great odds with global best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic but also in violation of relevant ILO Conventions and Declarations on Wages and Decent Work. We urge the government as a social partner to quickly respond to the demands by Labour for an upward review of salaries of all Nigerian workers.

Nigerian workers have shown sufficient understanding with the government through the tough patches of the pandemic. Now, Nigerian workers demand reciprocity of our understanding. Nigerian workers demand an increase in their remunerations and allowances.”

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