The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has congratulated Nigerian workers in commemoration of this year’s International Workers’ Day.
Gbajabiamila said although the day is being marked quietly across the globe as a result of the lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is much to remember about the sacrifices made by Nigerian workers.
The Speaker, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, commended Nigerian workers for their commitment and dedication to work over the years, which he said has shaped the country tremendously.
“I want to salute the courage of Nigerian workers, who have over the years given their best to their work. Indeed Nigeria and Nigerians are proud of you.
“I urge the Nigerian workers to redouble their efforts at this time of our national development. They must continue to put in their best in the work that they do for the betterment of the country,” Gbajabiamila said
The Speaker, then, called on Nigerian workers to be more productive now and always, saying what was achieved before now must be sustained and improved upon.
Today is International Workers Day or Labour Day, observed each year on May 1 to celebrate the achievements and sacrifices of the workers.
It also is a day used to highlight the dangers faced by the working class in the course of carrying out their routine activities.
This year’s workers day, however, comes amid the ravaging coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has spread to almost all the countries of the world, leaving almost two million people infected and more than one hundred thousand dead.
The pandemic has also negatively impacted the economies of many countries, worsening the conditions of many workers.
This has resulted in a health crisis that has thrown up issues concerning the welfare of workers, especially those currently in the frontline of the battle to curb the spread of coronavirus and provide care for those already infected by the virus.
Labour Day, also known as May Day, is observed as a public holiday in countries around the world, including Nigeria.
The day is usually marked with public rallies and demonstrations in various states across Nigeria to draw the attention of the government and employees of labour to the plight of workers, as promoted by the International Labour Movement.
However, no such public gathering is taking place this time, in view of the restrictions imposed by the government as part of measures to tackle COVID-19, especially regarding the need to maintain social distancing.
In declaring the day a public holiday on behalf of the Federal Government, the Ministry of Interior, commended Nigerian workers for their resilience, patience and understanding, particularly in their support of the present administration’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang, says President Muhammadu Buhari is extremely worried about Nigerian workers and the unemployed.
He stated this on Wednesday during an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“President Buhari’s administration is extremely concerned about not just the Nigerian workers but those who are qualified to be employed and are not yet employed.
“And of course, the Federal Government is also committed to those who are unemployed. That is why you have the Ministry of Labour is called the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity,” he stated.
While noting that it is impossible for the government to engage every Nigerian into the civil service, he, however, stated that the current administration is working hard to address the unemployment challenge.
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has promised to increase the new minimum wage recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He revealed this during a rally to mark the 2019 May Day celebration which held at the University of Benin Sports Complex in Benin City, the state capital.
Speaking on the theme, “Another 100 years of struggle for jobs, dignity and social justice in Nigeria,” the governor noted that the increment would take place if the workers work hard to increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state.
“If we can improve on our revenue, I will increase our minimum wage. We should make sure we commit ourselves to higher productivity,” he stated.
On the implementation of the new minimum wage, Obaseki stated that the state government would set up a joint committee while awaiting further guidelines for the payment from the National Salary and Wages Commission.
He also promised the workers that his administration is working on plans to harmonize pension based on the new minimum wage, stressing that the payment of backlog of pension and gratuity arrears is underway.
Reacting, the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state, Comrade Sunday Osayande commended the governor for seeing to the welfare of the workers.
“We commend our governor for creating the atmosphere in the state for investors to contribute to our development as jobs have been created in the state under the Obaseki-led administration”
“We also commend Obaseki for the infrastructural development in the state especially on the construction of roads across the state. Thank you for the prompt payment of workers’ salaries, payment of pension arrears, as pensioners are smiling today,” he stated.
Similarly, Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Marshall Ohue, thanked the governor for making the state suitable for businesses to thrive through positive economic policies.
Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje has promised to implement the new minimum wage of N30,000 for workers in the state.
He made this promise on Wednesday during the annual Workers’ Day celebration which held at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, the state capital.
While pledging to maintain the harmonious working relationship between workers and the state government, the governor pledged his administration will among other things train and retrain the labour force.
“The first thing we are expecting is the implementation of the minimum wage which is very important.
As Nigerians join their counterparts from across the world to celebrate the International Workers’ Day, they are calling on the Federal Government to improve the welfare of the labour force.
Top on their demand list is the call for the government at all levels to increase the minimum wage from N18,000 to N66,500.
In Abuja, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) urged the Federal Government to approve the amount demanded by the workers and warned that it would not accept non-compliance with a new minimum wage when passed.
It also threatened to vote out any government that fails to comply with a new wage.
The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, issued the threat on Tuesday in Abuja in his message to the Nigerian workers to celebrate May Day 2018.
“We are battle ready against public and private organisations that would refuse to conform to the new minimum wage. “At our disposal is the power of our votes,” NLC President Mr Ayuba Wabba, said.
“We shall ensure that governments that refuse to pay the new minimum wage will not receive the support of the working class, pensioners and their families.”
The demand was supported by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr Yakubu Dogara, among others.
Ekweremadu is of the opinion that even if the workers cannot have their desired amount, they should be paid at least N50,000 to meet up to the current realities in the country.
On his part, the Speaker who hailed workers for their contribution to national development and growth, promised that the National Assembly would expedite the passage of the Minimum Wage Bill once the National Minimum Wage Committee has completed its task and the executive forward a bill for the review of the wage to them.
Across the states of the federation, workers gathered at different venues to mark the Workers’ Day.
As workers in Nigeria join others across the world to mark the International Workers’ Day, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has promised that the National Assembly will work toward improving the welfare of workers.
To ensure this, the Speaker said the National Assembly would speedily pass the minimum wage bill once it is presented to it.
Mr Dogara made the promise via his Twitter handle on Tuesday.
Labour unions in the country have been holding talks with the Federal Government about the need to review the minimum wage upwards.
According to labour leaders, the current minimum wage of N18,000 which has been in effect for at least seven years does not capture the current realities and is insufficient.
As a result of the demands, the Federal Government had in May 2017 set up a National Minimum Wage Committee to come up with a new minimum wage for the country.
Mr Dogara, who acknowledged the importance of workers to the growth and prosperity of Nigeria, said once the committee completes their task and a bill is presented to the National Assembly, the lawmakers would do their part.
“We see the struggles you go through to survive on wages that can barely last through the first week of the month. We commend your courage, your commitment to service and nation building and urge you to continue supporting government policies,” he tweeted.
“I assure you that @nassnigeria (the National Assembly) will give expeditious passage to the Minimum Wage Bill whenever it is transmitted by the Executive and any other initiative which will promote the welfare of the Nigerian worker.”
The Federal Government has declared Tuesday, May 1, 2018, as a public holiday to celebrate the 2018 Workers’ Day.
The Minister of Interior, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau (Rtd), announced this in a statement on Friday by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr M. Umar.
He congratulated Nigerian workers on their loyalty, strength of character, hard work, sacrifice and dedication to building a greater country.
General Dambazau appreciated the central role workers play in government activities and decisions, and for keeping faith with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in its resolve to build a better Nigeria.
He, however, solicited the continuous support of the workers in government’s effort to re-position the economy and uphold the shared legacy of all Nigerians.
The Minister wished all Nigerian workers a successful May Day celebration.
“On the issue of minimum wage, the workers themselves and their leaders know that we employ what we call tripeptide negotiation. It’s not only the government or public sector that will pay, there will also be private sector people that will obey that law on minimum wage. That is why we’ve tried to carry everybody along.
“We have finished the framework for the composition of the committee and we have passed it on to the government to source for requisite, qualified, fit and proper persons that will man this committee. That is the stage we are in now,” Senator Ngige disclosed to reporters.
He noted that political forces would not be allowed to masquerade as Nigerian workers, to make political statements at the expense of legitimately aggrieved unionists.
The Minister, however reiterated government’s commitment to addressing workers’ challenges such as the minimum wage and backlog of promotion arrears among others.
“We are going to address the issue of minimum wage, we are going to also address the issue of backlog of promotion arrears and allowances of all sorts. We captured them in the 2016 budget but for some reasons, the releases were not forthcoming.
“The Senate President has assured that we are going to capture them in the 2017 budget and once it is captured in the appropriation bill, the Minister of Finance will release the money for those payments”.
Thousands of workers in Yobe State converged on the Damaturu Township Stadium to observe the May Day celebration in grand style for the first time in five years.
The celebration witnessed a high turnout as a result of the relative peace being enjoyed across the state, as well as Nigeria’s North-East geopolitical zone.
Addressing the workers, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, who was represented by his deputy, Abubakar Aliyu, appreciated their contributions in the development of the state.
He assured the civil servants that his administration would continue to evoke ways of improving their living conditions.
The governor promised them that the upward review of pensions, leave grants and other entitlements of the civil servants would be worked out by the Secretary to the State Government and the Head of Service for government consideration.
He also expressed appreciation to security agencies for their dedication towards the return of peace and urged the citizens to partner with the security operatives in sustaining the existing peace in the state.
The State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ibrahim Lawan, commended the State Government for the frequent payment of workers’ salaries.
He however, called for the review of pension allowances, leave grants and completion of the building of the Labour House currently under construction among others.
Some of the workers who spoke to Channels Television, Malama Fatima and Musa Buba, praised security operatives for the return of peace which they said was the reason they could celebrate Workers’ Day in Yobe State for the first time in five years.
They called on the State Government to consider all the recommendations put forward by the NLC Chairman, saying it would encourage their productivity.
Labour unions in Borno State are demanding for the payment of backlog of salaries, gratuity and pension of civil servants in the state.
The State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Titus Abana, made the call on Monday at an event to commemorate the Workers’ Day in Maiduguri, the state’s capital in North-East Nigeria.
Mr Abana noted with dismay that workers and pensioners were facing untold hardship, due to the ongoing biometric exercise which he said had delayed the payment of salaries.
He decried that while some of the already screened workers were yet to receive their salaries since June 2016, many others have not been invited for the capturing.
“The biometric exercise should be hastened and completed in this month of May 2017, and payment of salaries should be transverse to the Ministry of Finance.
“Also, officers undertaking the exercise should take particular attention of pensioners who are old and weak and may not be able to withstand some of the rigours of the exercise as carried out at the state level,” the NLC Chairman said.
In his response, Borno State Deputy Governor, Usman Durkwa, assured the civil servants that their suffering was for a while and for the overall benefit of the state.
He said Governor Kashim Shettima would use resources saved from the biometric exercise to gainfully employ the teeming jobless youths in the state.
“The government intends to use money recovered from the biometric data capture exercise to employ our teeming unemployed youths and create a sustainable salary payment.
“We further appeal to our workers to show more understanding because they will surely laugh last,” Durkwa noted.
Other demands by the union include full implementation of owner/occupier housing scheme, allocation of newly constructed houses to workers, upward review of pensions, as well as implementation of yearly increment and promotion benefits among others.
The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has called on the Federal Government to set up a committee to review the demands of workers.
Saraki made the call while speaking to journalists at the Eagles Square in Abuja where workers in the Federal Capital Territory met to mark Workers’ Day, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu.
The Senate President’s call came after workers at the event refused to allow the Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, address them.
He was quoted as saying, “Government must set up a high-powered committee representing all stakeholders who have the ability to engender confidence across board. They must be given clear terms of references and realistic time to conclude their work and make recommendations.
“We in the National Assembly are ready to play our part to ensure that the appropriation of necessary funds and enactment of appropriate laws to back up the resultant policies.”
Saraki said if the workers had allowed Ngige, to address them he would have announced some plans that the government had for the workers.
He, however, said the government appreciated the patience, understanding and cooperation of the workers, especially in the face of the current economic challenges.
Saraki disclosed that the National Assembly had increased the proposed provision in the 2017 budget being worked on to take care of pension of retired workers.
He added that lawmakers would be will to make last-minute adjustments to the budget to accommodate the implication of promotions and allowances.