A coalition of 79 Civil Society Organizations under the auspices of Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizenship Awareness on Friday appealed to the organised labour to shelve the proposed nationwide strike over minimum wage slated for 6th November 2018 in the interest of the nation.
President-General of the coalition, Dr Gabriel Nwambu, who addressed newsmen on Friday in Abuja, warned that shutting down the country at this critical time would be counterproductive.
He appealed to the organised labour to reconsider the N22,500 offer by the State Government, while further engagements were on how to improve the generality of the welfare of workers in the country.
He noted that the threat for strike action by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliate unions, with a possible boycott of the 2019 General Elections would be counter-productive in view of the prevailing economic situation in the country.
He said the coalition shared in the plight of workers but insisted that there was no use entering agreement that at long run the state governments would not be able to implement.
Nwambu said it was not right for the Federal Government to compel states to pay a specific amount as minimum wage because the infrastructural, educational, health, and needs of each state also vary.
He said: “It is also our firm belief that the worker as true patriots of the Nigerian nation deserves very good condition of work and a sustainable living wage, bringing to bear the inflationary trend in the country and the prevailing economic realities.
“We as a coalition has clinically examined very germane issues raised by all the parties involved in the negotiation. The facts must be spelt out the way it is.
“The introduction of the 18,000 naira minimum wage came as a great relief. But the reality is that till date, some states of the federation are yet to implement it and even some states who implemented the increase in wages are still unable to pay fully the agreed sum.
“Several states still owe salaries not because the individual Governors do not want to pay but because resources available to individual states and the internally generated revenue (IGR) vary from one state to the other.
“Now, the tendency is that if states are compelled by any form of legislation to pay some specific amount as minimum wage, then the states might resort to the only available option to the retrenchment of the workforce. This option is what the states are consistently trying to avoid because of the prevailing economic condition.
“The Nigerian economy is already overburdened with very high recurrent expenditure which is sourced abroad via borrowing. Our economy is haemorrhaging seriously. The IMF has warned Nigeria on the possible consequences of excessive borrowing. We can further worsen this situation via a unilateral increase in wages thus causing a Cash-Push and Make-Up type of inflation.
“Wage increase right from the Udoji Award is known to be a major cause of inflation.
“The life wire of our economy is hinged on crude oil sales. Today, the price of crude is no longer what it used to be.
“As a coalition of Civil Society Organizations, therefore, who are mindful of the degree of commitment of the average worker in Nigeria, we hereby call on the organized Labour, NLC, TUC, etc as true patriotic citizens of Nigeria they are, to please reconsider the of 22, 500 naira as realistic and achievable in other to avert an imminent collapse of our economy and a possible retrenchment of the workforce.”
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