By Chris Nomjov
Newly elected executives of the Nigeria Labour Congress are already off to work; as they have indicated plans to soon open up negotiations with government to demand the immediate review of the current minimum wage to workers. This is especially given the economic realities facing the country.
The President of the Congress, Ayuba Wabba, who emerged on Saturday after the rescheduled National Executive Council elections, shortly after his formal assumption of office in Abuja, said that the current economic situation in the country has rendered the N18, 000 minimum wage to workers unrealistic.
Mr. Wabba, who cited the negative impact of the falling global prices of crude oil at the international market on the country’s economy, said with the recent devaluation of the Naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the purchasing power of the average worker has been significantly diminished and almost useless.
Though he did not say when the negotiations would commence, the new labour leader said in the face of dwindling economic fortunes, the labour movement has no option than to take steps to dialogue with government and other employers of labour in the country to protect the interest of workers.
On the threat by 23 affiliate unions of the Congress led by the main opposition candidate in the election, Joe Ajaero, to form a parallel administration, the NLC President said his executive would adopt direct and indirect channels of dialogue to reach out to all aggrieved parties with a view to bringing every member on board.
Following the outcome of the election, which saw Mr. Wabba emerge winner, his main challenger’s faction had alleged the election was flawed and threatened to contest the result.
Already, the group has issued invitations to affiliate unions sympathetic to its cause for a “special delegates congress” in Lagos this week to discuss on what they consider the way forward, including the possibility of forming a parallel executive.
But, the General Secretary of the Congress, Peter Ozo-Eson, has dismissed such parallel administration as illegal in the light of the free and fair poll concluded on Saturday.
“As the General Secretary of the Congress, I am not aware of any plan by any group to form a parallel executive,” Mr. Ozo-Eson said.
“On what basis would such executive be possible after we have just concluded a free, fair and widely acclaimed successful elections witnessed by a cross section of Nigerians and groups that participated, including the media.
“The new executive has since been sworn in and the President has assumed office. People should learn to accept the outcome of electoral processes in good faith,” he added.