Nigeria Labour Congress has expressed shock at the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed’s comment on wages slash to reduce the high cost of governance in the country.
The Minister said this in Abuja at a policy dialogue on corruption and cost of governance in Nigeria organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.
Ahmed had also directed the National
Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to immediately
review the salaries of civil servants as well as the number of federal
agencies in the country.
The NLC’s President, Ayuba Wabba in reaction to this in a statement on Wednesday, said “it is most unthinkable that government would be contemplating to unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time.”
“The question to ask is “which salary is government planning to slash?” It
certainly cannot be the meagre national minimum wage of N30000 which right now cannot even buy a bag of rice!”
Wabba added, “The proposed slash in salaries is certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries that some callous State Governors are still dragging their feet to pay!”
He stated that the multiple devaluations of the Naira in a very short time and the prevailing high inflation rate in the country have knocked out the salaries earned by workers across the board.
According to him, “Nigerian workers are only surviving by hair’s breadth. Indeed, Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs.
“It is, therefore, extremely horrendous for a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pronounce salary slash for Nigerian workers at this time.”
The Labour Leader said the call for salary slash by Ahmed is tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish for Nigerian workers.
He, therefore, described it as “most uncharitable, most insensitive, most dehumanizing and most barbaric.”
According to him, “Nigerian workers demand an immediate retraction and apology by the Minister of Finance.”
Wabba, however, charged President Muhammadu Buhari to “call the Minister of Finance to order now before she sets Nigeria on fire with her careless statements.”
He added, “If there is any salary that needs serious slashing it is the humungous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political office holders in Nigeria who do very little but collect so much!
“Workers generate surplus value and revenue for government. We do not constitute any unnecessary cost or burden to governance!
“It is also important to make the point that salaries are products of contracts governed by laws. They cannot be unilaterally adjusted.”
“While many countries of the world are increasing the salaries of their workforce, extending social security coverage for their citizens and providing all forms of palliatives to help their people through the terrible socio-economic dislocations occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be completely absurd for the Nigerian government to be thinking of salary slash.”
He further explained that the move was not only at great odds with global best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also in violation of relevant ILO Conventions and Declarations on Wages and Decent Work.
NLC, however, urged the government as a social partner to quickly respond to the demands by Labour for an upward review of salaries of all Nigerian workers.
The statement read further, “Nigerian workers have showed sufficient understanding with government through the tough patches of the pandemic.
“Now, Nigerian workers demand reciprocity of our understanding. Nigerian workers demand an increase in their remunerations and allowances. Enough is enough!”