President of the Nigeria Labour Congress ( NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has charged state chapters to take on, headlong, state governments still owing arrears of salaries, pension and gratuity; after Federal Government bailouts and budget support initiatives.
In an address he sent to state congresses, holding simultaneously across the country, Wabba said at the last count, government bailout was close to N2 trillion.
He called for election of state officers who will arrest the evil trend and punitive injustice against workers.
“This States Delegates Conference goes beyond the election of leaders to provide leadership to our state councils for the next four years.
“It is a veritable space to re-evaluate our commitment to the cause of Nigerian workers.
“Our resolve in this regard is supposed to find expression in the renewal of our commitment to genuine struggle, for social justice, workers rights and human dignity.
“I expect that in this conference, we will awaken a fresh passion that seeks to invest ourselves completely in the fight to improve our collective working and living conditions,” Wabba said.
The NLC president also enjoined workers to closely monitor implementation of promises made during the 2019 political campaigns.
On the new minimum wage for workers, Wabba reminded them of the “tenacity, in the pursuit through several rallies, protest marches at both federal and state levels and even few strike actions to press home our demand for a new national minimum wage.”
Although President Muhammadu Buhari hassigned the N30, 000 new minimum wage bill into law, and called it a perfect May Day gift for Nigerian workers, Wabba regretted the delay and called on all employers of labour to commence payment immediately.
“I urge the incoming leadership of our state councils to make the immediate payment of the new national minimum wage of N30,000 and review of monthly pension by state governments your top priority.
“We have crossed the bridge of the debate; whether state governments can pay the new national minimum wage or not.
“The feedback we got from the nationwide rallies for a new national minimum wage, which took place in January 2019, indicated that most state governments were willing to pay the new national minimum wage once Mr. President granted his assent.
“The truth is that if state governments cut down on the high cost of governance and corruption, they would be more than able to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000,” he stated.
Wabba warned that NLC will reject proposals to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT); as a means of funding the 2019 budget, noting that “any increase in VAT or Pay AsYou Earn would not only rob workers of the minimal relief from the increase in the national minimum wage but, would also, leave our economy in dire straits.
“We urge government to consider other progressive ways of financing the budget. Government should adopt progressive taxation in a manner that captures more people in the tax net and also, ensure that the rich and luxury items are properly taxed.”
The NLC cautioned government against contemplating any further increase in the price of refined petroleum products especially premium motor spirit (PMS).
“We understand that the International Monetary Fund has advised the federal government to remove the so-called “petrol subsidy,” which is a euphemism for increase in the pump price of petrol. This advice is completely insensitive to the suffering of most Nigerians.
Congress believes that the current regime of petrol subsidy reeks of corruption.”