By Olanrewaju Akojede
The Vice-President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Solomon Adelegan, announced on Wednesday that the Federal Government was foot-dragging on negotiating a new minimum wage for workers.
Adelegan, who made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, said that negotiating a new wage for workers was long overdue.
“The agreement on new minimum wage as posited by the NLC Chairman Ayuba Wabba is long overdue because the former document signed by the government and labour is renewable after every fifth year.
“As I speak now, we are in the seventh year, meaning it is overdue for review and we have sent letters to the appropriate quarters for the negotiation to commence but there is no word from government.
“We have done our part since about four months ago when we presented our recommendation but government has yet to commence.
“We want to let the government know that our patience is running out on this issue. On our part, there are many options open to us.”
Adelegan said that there might not be a decent workforce if the workers were working under duress, engendered by poverty as a result of poor remuneration.
“The position of the NLC is simple, when we talk about decent workforce, there should be a commensurate pay to drive them.
“Nigerian workers are working under unfavourable condition. How long will it take government’s team to engage labour if they are serious with the negotiation?
“We are calling on government to expedite action on the new minimum wage without delay because the present pay being received now is a shame, considering the current economic hardship.
“The impact of recession as claimed by the government is only felt by the workers.’’
Adelegan said that in spite of the hardships brought by recession, workers in some state were owed salaries; a development, he described as disheartening.
“In recession, some state governments still owe the meager salary they are paying their workforce; this to us is unacceptable and appalling.
“Benue State government owes 13 months’ salary, including the local government workers. In kogi State, the government is owing workers to the tune of three years.
“This is a crisis we want to avert.
“The government is claiming lack of fund but their officials are all over the place squandering the revenue, driving new posh cars and all what have you. This is quite exploitative on the part of government.
“We will soon call out Nigerian workers to stand up to their rights and we will implore them to give us their maximum support to making their lives meaningful because government has the resources to pay.”