Labour has demanded an increase in workers’ pay to cushion recession. At the 15th Harmattan School, a training for labour leaders in Kaduna, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Comrade Ayuba Wabba said workers’ purchasing power had reduced and was affecting other sectors of the economy. He said unless there is a new wage regime, the contributory pension scheme (CPS) would not be a reality.
Wabba noted that developments in the economy, such as the increase in the pump price of petroleum products, rise in prices of commodities, increased tariff on utilities, and social services have made the demand more urgent.
The fight against corruption, he said, would be more successful if workers are well paid, adding that the foot-dragging by the government in constituting a committee to deliberate on the demand was uncalled for.
Wabba said the CPS would enhance life after retirement for workers. He enjoined the legislature to be fair in the passage of its bill to make it practicable and sustainable.
“In most cases, both the government and capitalists perceive us as liabilities or as if we are part of the problem. But we are not part of the problem; rather, we are the solution.
“The capitalists see labour union as opposition. They see us as a threat, but no matter what, we always fight for our rights,” Wabba said.
He expressed NLC’s concern at the free-fall of the naira and the abortive efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to arrest the trend.
The NLC president said the Union noted the harm and pain the massive devaluation and the attendant inflation have wrought on millions of families across the country.
“We noted that this situation may escalate into a state of national panic except a solution to the economic malaise is found soon. We urge the government to take all measures necessary to arrest the recession and turn the economy around.
“This includes recovering the un-remitted bail-out fund given to commercial banks by government with no re-payment reschedule and the billions of naira similarly given as bail-out to private airlines with nothing to show for it.
“We urge the government to sustain its war against corruption by ensuring good governance and the prosecution of all corrupt cases and recovery of stolen funds,” Wabba said.
He added that labour is worried over the destruction of critical oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta by militants in pursuance of a redress for decades of degradation of the Niger Delta region by oil exploration.
He noted that the deployment of violence in prosecution of an otherwise noble cause is not in the overall interest of Nigerians or Niger Deltans, as this violence has led to further degradation of the environment, loss of lives and revenue to the nation.