The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Ayuba Wabba on Thursday said workers are ready to fight endlessly with governors, who refuse to comply with the payment of the minimum wages signed by President Muhammadu Buhari into Law.
Wabba spoke at the 11th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) in Abuja, on Thursday.
He the governors to remember they swore an oath to always abide by the laws of the land, adding that the national minimum wage is part of the law they must implement with.
Comrade Wabba said “Minimum wage has never been given to workers on a platter of gold. I am happy that the Jigawa State government has promised to pay. I have also heard the Oyo State governor says they are not able to pay.
“But before the election, he said he was going to pay. We are going to fight them tooth and nail. It is already a law and they have sworn to uphold the sanctity of our laws. We have enough in this country, especially there is prudence.
“The challenge we are having is not an act of God, but man-made. When we were fighting for this minimum wage, I remember one of the governors came to the public hearing and was speaking from both sides of his mouth.
“I am not surprised that at the end of the process, his entire political structure in that state was wiped out. He said it is the act of God and I say it is the punishment of God.”
The chairman of the occasion and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), speaking at the occasion charged the organized labour to make the ruling class responsible for good welfare of workers.
He said: “Knowing that those in government will not allow the welfare of the people, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress can force the ruling class to enforce some of the laws to promote the welfare of workers.
“What Section 16 of the constitution provides for is a living minimum wage. The N30,000 minimum wage is not a living wage. But it was a battle to increase the wage to N30,000.
“Apart from that law, we have the National Pension Reforms Act, the National Health Insurance Act and the Employees Compensations Act and the Factories Act. All these laws are observed in their breaches. I am therefore challenging you to challenge the government to ensure that the minimum wage is paid by state governments.
“The Federal Government must sit down with labour to ensure that the wealth of our country is not dissipated. That is why I call on Labour to collaborate with the Federal Government to fight corruption to a standstill because you are the greatest victims of corruption.
“All our governors now fly chartered jets and you can’t pay minimum wage if you have to fly chartered jets. I, therefore, call on NLC and TUC to set up a committee that will sit down with real economists that will let you know that Nigeria is one of the richest countries in the world.
“A government agency NEITI has disclosed to all of us that the Federal Government has refused to collect 22 billion dollars and N376 billion from the NNPC and this is money that should go into the federations account and distributed to all tiers of government.
“Secondly, for the past 18 years, the Federal Government refused to collect about 60 billion dollars from oil companies under the Onshore Inland Basin Act. Three state government went to court last year and the Supreme Court gave a judgment asking the Federal Government to collect outstanding royalty.
“The government has refused to implement that judgement. Please let us collect this money and monitor the disbursement so that it is not privately diverted”.