Following yesterday’s announcement by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) to slash the N18,000 minimum wage of Nigerian workers, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has cautioned the Governors against the move.
The Union said the Forum’s announcement is premature, considering that it did not deem it fit to consult the body and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) before making such “vexatious pronouncements that are capable of deepening the economic crises and overheating the polity.”
In a statement by the Rivers State Chairman of the TUC, Comrade Hyginus Chika Onuegbu, today, Nov. 20, in Port Harcourt, he said workers would resist it if the Governors go ahead with the slash.
“We want to state very categorically that this is not a time for any unilateral action by any level of government as such will be resisted by the workers and the Unions that represent them including TUC Rivers State.”, he said.
He urged the Forum to “dialogue with NLC and TUC with a view to co-creating acceptable win-win solutions to the current economic crises rather than making vexatious pronouncements that are capable of deepening the economic crises and overheating the polity. For the avoidance of doubt ,workers will not accept any reduction in the meagre N18,000 minimum wage.”
The labour leader acknowledged the economic crises confronting the county at the moment, but blamed it on bad governance and various misappropriation of funds in the government.
He said, “While we agree that the Nigerian economy is in bad shape due mainly to fall in oil price from $115 per barrel in June 2014 to less than $48 per barrel now .
“We note that a lot of the factors responsible for the current situation of the economy can be traced to poor governance and corruption by the political class. For instance, the political leaders at all levels did not stop the industry scale oil theft of some 400,000 barrels of oil per day; refused to diversify the economy away from oil and gas; refused to pass the PIB; made no savings for the rainy day such that the excess crude account is just $2bln, external reserves is below $30bln and Nigerian Govt debt is over $63bln etc.
“The situation becomes clearer when you juxtapose Nigeria with Saudi Arabia that has a smaller population but external reserves in excess of $900bln.”
The NGF at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday, Nov. 19, had agreed to cut down on the salaries of government workers to reduce huge overhead costs of government, giving the present unfavorable economic condition of the country as the reason for the move.