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NLC summons emergency meeting over minimum wage

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday summoned an emergency meeting of its executive council on Monday  to discuss the removal of wages from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List by NASS.

But the  Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha said yesterday that the report of the Constitution Review Committee adopted by the National Assembly did not remove labour from the exclusive legislative list.

A statement by Ihedioha said that the Senate had earlier put labour on the concurrent list ‘but the House retained it in the exclusive list.’204x_mg_nigerialabourcongressnlc

‘During the harmonisation of the reports from the two chambers, the Conference Committee adopted the House version and retained labour on the exclusive List.

‘Both Senate and the House of Representatives have now adopted the Conference Committee report which retained labour on the exclusive legislative list.

‘We are at a loss as to where the false and misleading information on this matter emanated from,’ Ihedioha said.

However, the Monday’s meeting of the NLC is also coming as Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, noted that senators were not only ignorant but also uninformed about the principles of  National Minimum Wage, NMW, insisting that NASS would not have its way as workers would resist the action with the last drop of their blood.

The NLC also claimed in a statement that the action of members of NASS was part of ‘a conscious ploy by some people to truncate the ongoing electioneering process.’

The statement, signed by the NLC General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, read:  ‘The NLC condemns in strong terms the removal of wages from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List by the NASS, in the on-going fourth amendment exercise to the 1999 Constitution.

‘We at the Congress see the removal of wages from the Exclusive List as an act of treachery masterminded by conservative governors and their cohorts in the NASS which will do the polity no good.

‘We wish to state in no uncertain terms that the Congress will mobilize its members to resist this move to scrap the NMW. We recall that last year our national campaign and mobilization on this subject matter was suspended at the instance of the leadership of the Senate which promised to revisit the issue now that they are better informed.

”We recall paying tribute to the House of Representatives, which in its wisdom did not contemplate removing Wages from the Exclusive List. It is also worth recalling that the just concluded National Conference retained Wages on the Exclusive List in deference to the logic of the argument for the necessity of maintaining wages on the Exclusive List.

‘We have generated and circulated enough literature on this subject matter and we are completely at a loss as to the rationale for this turn-around. We advise the NASS to hearken to the voice of reason and the voice of the people by urgently retracing their steps because the consequences of their action could be dire for the nation.

‘We have explained as often as necessary that the basic rationale for the fixing of a minimum wage is to ensure that employees, particularly the unorganised and unskilled, are not exploited by their employers to the extent that their pay becomes so low that it creates a pool of the working poor. ”Minimum wage laws are in force in approximately 90 percent of the countries of the world today. Why would Nigeria leave this group for the negative 10 percent?

‘One of the implications of this amendment is the jettisoning by the NASS of the concept of a national minimum wage as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (item 34 of the Second Schedule). What this means is that every individual employer will determine it’s minimum wage. This is extremely retrogressive and dangerous.

”The other implication is that it will turn the wage determination process in states into a legislative exercise instead of the universal best practice model of collective bargaining as enshrined in the ILO Convention on Collective Bargaining and Convention on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining.’

”In light of the foregoing, the Congress believes the removal is a deliberate and calculated attempt to move us from the working poor to the slave-poor. We also believe it is a conscious ploy by some people to truncate the on-going electioneering process.

‘An emergency NEC has been convened for Monday, October 27, to mobilize workers for further action. We appeal to the Nigerian people to show understanding in the event of fall-outs from our proposed action.’

Similarly, TUC in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Bobboi Kaigama, and Musa Lawal respectively, said:   ‘We have written and intimated them on global trends and best practices on the issue. For instance, in the United States of America, the Congress exclusively legislates on minimum wage.

‘Indeed, only recently, the newly elected Councillors in Seattle, Professor Sawant, sponsored a bye-law proposing $15,000 national minimum wage which is well above the present national minimum wage of that country.

‘The timing of the decision, so close to the preparation for general elections in 2015, might actually be an attempt by the unscrupulous characters to provoke a national industrial crisis at a time when the nation is barely managing to cope with ongoing ones.

‘Nevertheless, unless the Senate wisely reverses its decision pronto, we, as Nigerian workers, shall not hesitate to resort to that option.

‘The decision is a surreptitious attempt to sound the death knell of the Nigerian labour movement by undermining, emasculating and fragmenting it into much smaller, ineffective units with no national voice but only functional within the states and at the mercy of the state governors.

”The fundamental underlying the principle for the fixing of national minimum wage is to ensure that workers, especially the non-unionised and unskilled, are not exploited by their employers to the extent that the worker’s take-home pay cannot sustain him.

‘Therefore, the need for uniform, national minimum wage cannot be over-emphasized, as it is one of the vital ingredients for decent work and decent living for every Nigerian worker. Thus we shall not allow anyone to turn us to slaves in our own land.

”TUC calls on the Senate to immediately reverse that stupendous decision or face a long drawn-out mass protest of unprecedented dimension. This decision is wicked, unpatriotic and grossly irresponsible and must never see the light of day.

‘The position of labour and the Nigerian people has been well communicated to both arms of the NASS at various times, but it is evident that the senators have chosen to turn deaf ears to the voice of reason.

‘Perhaps a protracted general strike will jolt them to reality and put an end to their wilful war against the people of this country. If that is what they want, we shall readily oblige them. Those who have ears let them hear.’ - Vanguard

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Emergency meeting Minimum NLC over summons wage

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