Labour Unions Threaten Mass Action Over Senate Vote to Remove National Minimum Wage From Exclusive List

Labour unions on Thursday threatened to mobilize against the Senate vote to remove the national minimum wage from the exclusive list.

The President, Trade Union Congress (TUC) Comrade Bobboi Kaigama said at a press conference jointly organized with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in Abuja that: “We are prepared to mobilize workers to ensure that the Senate is not going to carry the day. We are assuring you that the mobilization is going to go round, and we assure you that the Senate that is not representatives of Nigerians. They are meant to chew their words.”

He rejected the Senate position, which he said was quite different from that of the members of the House of Representatives.

He said “the Senate is on its own. So we are on the path of the House of Representatives and we are prepared to mobilize the Nigerian workers to ensure that the Senate does not carry the day.”

Reading a speech jointly signed by the two unions, that was titled “A Conscienceless Senate,” the NLC President, Comrade Abdulwahed Omar Omar, said it was an irony that the Senators proposed decentralisation of minimum wage against the people of Nigeria eroding the earning power of vulnerable workers.

He noted that the vote at the same time gleefully and overwhelmingly voted for life pension for the leadership of the Senate.

Omar described the vote as a response to the challenge posed by the Senate to further exploit and pauperise working families.

He therefore called on state councils and the leadership of industrial unions to remain calm .

The unions also urged the workers to “remain focused as we get prepared to address this incipient, but growing impunity in our nation by the political class.”

NLC, TUC recalled that the Senate has become self-serving and anti-people. Never in the history of this country, not even in the military era, “have we witnessed such a charade and travesty on the popular wish of the people as was displayed at the Senate.”

According to the unions, the Senate lacked the understanding of the concept of a national minimum wage.

Omar and Kaigama said the Senate assumed that a minimum wage is a wage review normally carried out by the Federal and State governments, oblivious of the historical and global concept of minimum wage being a benchmark to ensure that vulnerable workers, particularly the unorganised and the unskilled are not unduly exploited by ravenous, selfish and greedy employers and money bags.

He said “By their misguided actions, the Senators have not only inadvertently excluded private sector workers from the minimum wage, but grossly violated ILO Convention 131, which the country is signatory to.”

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