Minimum Wage: Proposed Nationwide Strike Designed To Fail – ULC

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The United Labour Congress (ULC) has described the proposed industrial action planned by organised labour following the ultimatum issued for the full implementation of the new minimum wage, and the consequential adjustments of salaries for civil servants as a failure.

The ULC in a statement issued by its President, Joe Ajaero, added that the labour centre will not be a part of the exercise that ‘makes a mockery of the genuine struggle by Nigerian workers’.

In series of meetings this week, representatives of the organised labour made up of the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and the Federal Government have failed to reach an agreement on percentage increase in salary for civil servants from levels 7 to 17.

READ ALSO: Minimum Wage: Labour, FG Fail To Reach Agreement

“Nigerian workers cannot be forced to negotiate from a position of weakness as in this case? Why would we want to go into a nation-wide strike without mobilizing all the national stakeholders and Civil Society organisations such as Market women, Students, faith-based organisations, Community Associations etc? Why the concerted effort to ensure that the critical sectors that would make for a successful strike are consciously sidelined?

“Obviously, the proposed nation-wide strike is designed to fail or at best watered down to achieve nothing but to bring few Nigerian workers on the street to dance and wave flags without shutting down the economy which is the effect a nation-wide strike ought to have. Markets will be open, Road, Maritime and Air transports will work, Filling stations and Depots will operate, banks will work and generally, the economy will go about its business as if nothing has happened so, where is the effect of such action? he asked.

According to Ajaero, the minimum wage increase which the ULC was a part of at the initial stage has been subjected to ‘abuse and battering’, and Nigerian workers should not be forced to negotiate from a position of weakness.

“We were part of the 16-Man Technical Committee that gave birth to the Tripartite Committee on the Review of the National Minimum Wage and in which we participated vigorously in all the processes leading to its negotiation and the various struggles to deliver it for the benefit of Nigerian workers and peoples.

“Unfortunately, this strike will not have the desired impact and would not achieve the intentions Nigerian workers would want as it is seemingly; dead on arrival as programmed by the hidden interests pushing the agenda.

“ULC will not, therefore, be part of an exercise designed to hoodwink Nigerian workers and masses into believing that their interests were being championed while the contrary may be the case. We will not be part of this ruse neither will we partake in a complete jamboree that makes a mockery of the genuine struggle by Nigerian workers to begin to enjoy the new national minimum wage,” the statement added.

NLC Strike Over Petrol Price Hike Enters Day Three

NLC, Strike, PetrolThe ongoing industrial action of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has lingered into the third day, as the labour union insists that the Federal Government must reverse the increase in the price of petrol.

In Osun State, the NLC members, the Joint Action Front and students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile –Ife continued the peaceful protest, urging residents to reject the 145 Naira petrol pump price.

Commercial and other related activities in the ancient town went on as the protesters blocked the popular Lageere Roundabout, causing traffic for few hours whilst the protest lasted.

The workers comprising basically of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Non-Academic Staff Unions of Universities in OAU, moved from the campus to Mayfair roundabout, distributing flyers to motorists and people on the street.

NLC, Strike, Petrol

Leading the protest, the Chairman of ASUU in OAU, Dr. Caleb Aborisahde, told Channels Television that the Federal Government must rescind its decision, else the industrial disharmony would continue indefinitely.

He also urged the Federal Government to build local refineries to make the petroleum product readily available to Nigerians.

In Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State and some parts of the state in southwest Nigeria, the compliance level in the industrial action remained the same.

Human and vehicular activities were in top gear, as residents defied the stay at home order of the labour union.

While monitoring the exercise in Abeokuta, a member of the human rights groups, Yinka Folarin, blamed the Federal Government for allegedly orchestrating the division among the leadership of the organised labour unions.

Meanwhile, the old long queues at fuel stations across the metropolis before the introduction of the current 145 Naira per litre of Premium Motor Spirit popularly called petrol is fast disappearing as residents can now get the commodity at ease.

In Nigeria’s northern region, the NLC Chairman in Plateau State, Jibrin Bancir, and a member of the Civil Liberty Organisation, Steve Aluko, said that the union had continued to monitor proceedings at the state and the federal secretariats where the entrances were locked.NLC, Strike, Osun

However, secondary school students were going about their studies, as the Trade Union Congress were not part of the ongoing strike with only the primary schools under lock and key.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government had directed all ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of government agencies to invoke the provision of “no work no pay” on any staff who is absent from work.

While the Ayuba Waba led faction of the NLC insists on carrying on with the industrial action, the Joe Ajaero led faction had reached an agreement with the government to set up a committee to resolve agitations over the new pump price of petrol.

NLC Factional Leader Demands Investigation Into Controversial Election

Joe Ajaero on NLCThe factional President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, is requesting for an investigation into the election that ended with the declaration of Comrade Ayuba Wabba as the winner.

After the election in March, Comrade Ajaero and his aggrieved supporters rejected the result and the outcome of the exercise, claiming that the election was not credible.

The election committee said no complaint was lodged before the vote counting or the announcement of the eventual result.

Comrade Ajaero, however, told Channels Television on Friday that Comrade Wabba was announced the President but was not an elected President.

“We need to put the two different things in perspective. After the accreditation, voting and sorting, everybody saw my result they put a call across to ‘the power that be’.

“Then what we saw was a deployment of security men, over 200, stationed at the position of NUPENG and all my supporters in case of any movement by us,” he said, insisting that the election result was manipulated to favour Mr Wabba.

The factional President said that the absence of a formal process of resolving issues within the NLC had also deepened the controversy that has continued unresolved.

“The veterans have tried to bridge the gap.

“He (Wabba) disagreed with the proposals made by the veterans.

“The first proposal was to put on hold the State Council Election to ensure that the crisis do not deepen, but he said no that he got directive from his mark that he is going to consult. He held elections in the states, now we have two councils in the state.

“He has been on media tour in Lagos,” he said.

Mr Ajaero stressed that he had maintained a level of restraints, saying everybody should be walking towards peace, as the interest of the union was stronger than personal interest.

“If the workers ask me to step down, I will step down. We are still giving room for solution,” he added.

The two factional leaders have continued to carry on in their different capacity, but veterans have warned that the situation would weaken the labour union which had been seen as the hope for a better working and living standard for the Nigerian worker.

Workers from 23 unions including Electricity Workers Union, Nigerian Textile Workers Union and NUPENG are among those opposing the results of the election that declared Waba president of the workers’ union.

NLC Reconciliation Move Suffers Setback

NLCEfforts to reconcile the two leadership factions of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have suffered a setback as the faction led by Comrade Joe Ajaero accused Adams Oshiomole of playing a divisive role in the process of reconciling the two parties.

The reconciliation committee was led by Comrade Hassan Sumonu and other labour veterans to address the disagreements between the two factions of Comrades Ayuba Waba and Joe Ajaero after the eleventh delegate congress declared Mr Waba as new NLC President.

This reconciliation move however suffered some setbacks on Tuesday, April 21, as members blamed Governor Adams Oshiomole of alleged partisanship.

The election of a new national executive of the NLC ended in chaos in Abuja on February 12.

Aggrieved delegates were caught on camera smashing and emptying ballot boxes with ballot papers flying on the floor of the International Conference Centre.

The workers alleged that the ballot papers were designed to favour one of the candidates vying for the President of the union.

Over 3,000 delegates voted as the General Secretary of National Union of Electricity Employees, Joe Ajaero and the President of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Wabba Ayuba, presented themselves for election to replace Adbulwaheed Omar.

The President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese, had withdrawn from the race for Ajaero.

The NLC was formed by Nigerian workers in 1978 and has successfully conducted 10 delegates’ conferences.

Electiricity Union Directs Members To Down Tools

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has directed its members to withdraw their services from all installations in the event of further provocation by armed military personnel desperate to take over PHCN installations.

A statement signed by the Secretary General of the Union, Mr. Joe Ajaero, said the plan of the federal government to hand over the power assets negated the agreement it reached with the union to resolve all outstanding labour issues.

Mr. Ajaero insisted that the gratuity payment the government made was only 68 per cent complete and no member of the union has had their pension contributions transferred into their retirement savings accounts.

He said “those that retired from service since 2011 have not received their benefits totaling about N19bn.  The differences of the shortfall of the terminal benefits from June 30, 2012 till date have not been considered for payment.

“The biometrically captured and considered casuals’ appointment has not been addressed.  The question of 10 per cent equity shareholding (in the companies) by the workers as statutorily provided has not been given attention.

While we appreciate and sympathise with the core investors, we ask for their understanding and that of the Nigerian public in our pursuit to ensure a seamless transition. We are resolute on receiving every kobo owed us as we are sure such liabilities will not be borne by the new investors unless there is a commitment to that effect from them.”

This threat is coming barely 24 hours before the federal government hands over the Power Holding Company of Nigeria will be handed over to their new owners.

Meanwhile, the permanent secretary in  the Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali, has said that there’s no justification for a strike because the federal government has made significant progress in the payment of the disengaged workers, with over 40,000 out of the 47,913 identified fully paid.