EditorialRestoring Confidence in Government-Labour Relations

Restoring Confidence in Government-Labour Relations

June 3, (THEWILL)- The lingering face-off between the Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has got to a head. An indefinite strike starting this Monday has been declared by the labour union as both parties failed to reach an agreement on the minimum wage for workers in the country.

NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his counterpart in the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, while announcing the strike at a joint briefing in Abuja on Friday, said the strike was necessary because of the failure of the federal government to conclude negotiations on a new national minimum wage and reverse the hike in the electricity tariff.

“In the light of this persistent inaction, we, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), hereby issue a notice of commencement of an indefinite nationwide strike to the Federal Government.

“We reiterate that since the National Minimum Wage negotiation exercise has not been concluded and the agreed wage passed into law; the hike in electricity tariff has not been reversed and the categorisation of consumers into Bands has not stopped as demanded; Nigerian workers are compelled by these failures to embark on an indefinite nationwide industrial action beginning on Monday, the 3rd of June, 2024 to press home our demands,” Osifo declared.

While pleading with Nigerians to bear with labour for the inconveniences that might come with the indefinite strike, the labour leaders assured Nigerian workers  of their commitment to pursue the cause to its end.

It is really sad that one year after the present administration came on board, its relationship with labour has not been cordial. Going about as if it has inherited the bad blood between labour and government that characterised the Muhammadu Buhari years with Chris Ngige as Labour Minister, the present relationship is far from cordial.

It is rather unfortunate that while Edo State could pay its workers N70,000 as minimum wage, the Federal Government is neither willing nor ready to pay its workers good salaries that are commensurate with the present economic realities and challenges as it is justifying the N60,000 minimum wage being offered after much foot-dragging.

Yet, the same Federal Government whose policies have almost reduced most Nigerians to beggars and paupers is embarking on unnecessary bazzaar, subsidising the 2024 Hajj with a whopping N90 billion and planning to continue the disbursement of N75,000 monthly to 75 million vulnerable households under the cash-transfer scheme, despite all the shortcomings.

We stand to correct the impression that palliatives being offered in whatever form and means are ways of alleviating the sufferings of the masses. Rather, they are perpetuating the poverty of the people by turning them into hangers-on, instead of standing fully on their own with good salaries and means of livelihood.

We also condemn the politicisation of the minimum wage issue as it is only a government which has no intention of improving the lot of its workers that would be reading political meaning to every agitation and continue to blackmail labour leaders.

One major responsibility of government is to ensure the welfare of its people and this includes the payment of good salaries and timely too to cushion the effects of the harsh economic realities on the people. With the recent increase in electricity tariff compounding the effects of the removal of subsidies on petrol, life has been very tough for the average Nigerian and the best the government can do is to offer succour and not add to their suffering and pains.

 

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