How FG fooled labour on strike, N30,000 minimum wage


The Federal Government might have successfully hoodwinked the organised labour into calling off its planned industrial action while at the same time having the last laugh on workers’ demand for a 30,000 minimum wage.

One after the other, unions across the country had expressed desire to ride out the storm alongside the organised labour. Many Nigerians, believing a major strike was imminent, had also hurriedly stocked up on fuel and other essential items.

But the Federal Government seemed to have tinkered craftily with time, engaging labour leaders in a protracted dialogue that began 11:30 a.m. and dragged into the D-Day

If workers felt relieved the ‘mother of all strikes’ had been called off because labour leaders won the deal, signals from the presidency are showing the Federal Government has effectively deflated enthusiasm for the planned industrial action, while at the same time retaining the trump card to implement its own version of a new minimum wage.

A reliable labour source who was at the make-or-mar meeting had confided in The Guardian that indeed N30,000 was the final submission. But a witty agreement moved by the Federal Government had ensured the leaders kept a sealed lip until President Muhammadu Buhari received the report of the tripartite committee.

Nigerian workers have since waited anxiously for the president to mouth the happy disclosure. But this might never come. The conspicuous avoidance of the ‘N30,000 word’ in Buhari’s speech has raised concerns within labour ranks that the presidency is unwilling to transmit the agreed deal to the National Council of State and the National Assembly.

“I want to assure you all that we will immediately put in place the necessary machinery that will close out these open areas. Our plan is to transmit the executive bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time.

“I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future. As the executive arm commences its review of your submission, we will continue to engage you all in closing any open areas presented in this report. I therefore would like to ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks. May I therefore, implore workers and their leaders not to allow themselves to be used as political weapons,” Buhari had said.

Also yesterday, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, shockingly referred to the report by the tripartite committee as “a recommendation” which the president would “consider” and then “make his views known in due course.”

Pressed to make further comment following the Federal Executive Council meeting at State House, Abuja, Mohammed insisted: “I said a recommendation was submitted. Mr. President will get back to the committee after he has studied the recommendation.”

On whether a review of the revenue sharing formula would be in the offing, if the new minimum wage is approved, to enable states to pay, he answered: “Once again, like I said, a recommendation has been made and in responding to the recommendation, all these views will be taken into consideration.”

But labour leaders are not ruling out a return to the battlefield. In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Peter Ozo-Eson said: “If anybody contemplates reduction, we will be back to the trenches and our members would direct us on the next step to take. But we think in the interest of industrial peace and harmony, what needs to be done now is that this compromise amount is forwarded to the National Assembly because reducing it will be extremely problematic.”



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