President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed for understanding of Nigerian workers as the Federal Government attempts to address the pressing issue of a new national minimum wage.
Buhari, represented by Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, made the appeal at the 12th National Delegates Conference of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The theme of the two-day Conference is “Towards a Decade of Activism for the Promotion of Labour Unity, National Rebirth and Development.”
According to Mr President, Government is determined to attain the decent work agenda, which involves opportunities to works that are productive and deliver fair income, security in the work place and social protection for families.
“Government appeals for the continued understanding of workers in attempt to address the pressing issue of minimum wage.”
The president noted that the government inaugurated a Technical Advisory Committee recently “to develop and advise government on how to successfully actualise the objective of seamless implementation of the impending wage increase.”
The Committee is also “to identify new revenue sources as well as areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made and to augment present Federal Government’s revenue framework in order to fund the wage increase.”
It will also “propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation of salary increase in a way that minimises any inflation impact and ensure that it does not lead to any job losses,’’ he said.
Buhari, however, assured NLC of government’s unalloyed support and cooperation towards its struggle for better workers’ welfare, which would invariably enhance productivity and economic growth in the country.
Mr President further said that the present administration regarded NLC as a partner in progress and reassured the Congress of the commitment of the administration to workers’ welfare.
“This is evidenced by the numerous programmes and policies that have been initiated by this present administration in promoting the interest and well-being of our workforce.
“This administration is also committed to addressing other issues that are still pending,” he added.
According to him, the Labour movement can be said without fear of contradiction to have lived up to the expectations of its teeming members by “continually protecting, defending and promoting the rights, well-being and interest of all workers and affiliates trade unions.
“It has played significant role with the promotion of unity among workers and constantly engaged government on national rebirth and development. This has been a commendable endeavour,’’ he said.
Earlier, the NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said that organised labour would resist any attempt to sell national assets
Wabba said that evidence around the country showed that privatisation had not done the nation any good as majority of government owned enterprises privatised were not functional.
He said what had happened in the past was that the enterprises were under-priced and sold to friends and associates, who stripped them of the assets, leaving them comatose and unproductive.
“Since the privatisation of electricity distribution, Nigerians are yet to see the fulfilment of promises of efficient service delivery.