By Femi Ogunshola
Nigerian workers have thrown their weight behind the 14-day ultimatum issued by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), to the Federal Government over delay regarding new minimum wage.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Labour leaders had on Wednesday cautioned the Federal Government against foot-dragging on the new minimum wage and allow the tripartite committee to conclude its job to avoid action.
The labour leaders, who are members of the Minimum Wage Committee at a joint news conference addressed in Lagos, gave the Federal Government 14 days to ensure that the committee conclude its work or be ready to face action.
The President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, had said that the committee was not pleased with the comments allegedly made by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.
Ngige had last week said that the committee should adjourn indefinitely to give room for further consultations with the government.
“We view his supposed pronouncement with great concern, suspicion and outrage.
“This new antic certainly is not acceptable to Nigerian workers, who had expected a New National Minimum Wage since 2016,’’ Wabba said.
However, some of the workers, who spoke with NAN on Thursday in Abuja expressed disappointment over the way and manner government was handling the issue.
Mr Salisu Umar, a civil servant, berated the Federal Government for obvious lack of concern to the plight of workers.
He said it would be outright lack of feelings for Nigerian workers not to heed the call for increased wage in the face of harsh economy.
Umar called on the NLC not to rest on its oars in the pursuit of a new minimum wage, adding that whatever action the union resolved to take to press home their demand would receive the support of workers.
Another worker, Mrs Dorcas Abulu, called on the NLC to put the Federal Government on its toes until the national new minimum wage was approved.
She noted that prices of goods and services had skyrocketed, adding that workers could hardly afford the basic needs of life because of inflation.
Abulu said the NLC should not succumb to intimidation or be compromised on the negotiation processes, adding that nothing must be done against the interest of Nigerian workers to get a new wage.
Mrs Aderinola Kemi, also a civil servant, urged NLC to ensure that they were not deceived with promises of implementation after the 2019 general elections.
She said that election time was the best period to force the Federal Government to implement the new wage, adding that no political party would want to jettison its workers’ demand during electioneering.
Another worker, Mr Issa Kamar, said the NLC should make good its threat by taking prompt action at the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum, adding that the workers were fully behind it.
Others, who spoke with NAN, were unanimous in their support for any action taken by the NLC that would favour the workers and force the Federal Government to return to the negotiating table.
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had on May Day while addressing Nigerian workers at the Eagle Square said the implementation of the new minimum wage would begin in September.
Also, the NLC president had on Sept. 10 said both the government and labour agreed that the September timeline must be respected.
According to him, the NLC is committed to respecting the timeline and that is why we left everything we are doing to do the needful to be able to do a good job.