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May Day: Living standards at all-time low – Workers

Nigerian workers yesterday said persistent double-digit inflation and stagnant remuneration have plummeted their living standards to an all-time low. At May Day celebration, held at…

Nigerian workers yesterday said persistent double-digit inflation and stagnant remuneration have plummeted their living standards to an all-time low.

At May Day celebration, held at the Eagle Square, Abuja, they said working families are unable to meet up with the basic cost of living especially feeding and decent accommodation, thus plummeting living standards to an all-time

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba and the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bobboi Bala Kaigama jointly read the address of the workers.

The event was attended by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Victor Umeh, who represented the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita and thousands of workers.

The workers said contrary to the official data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that inflation had dropped from 11.44 percent in December 2018 to 11.25 percent, “ the unofficial reality shows that life is becoming increasingly excruciating for the average worker and citizen.

“The phenomenal hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as fuel in 2016, the devaluation of Naira in the same year and increase in the cost of electricity in the past five years have sustained high inflation rates.

“The persistence of double-digit inflation and stagnant remuneration for workers has almost wiped off the purchasing power of Nigerian workers,” they said.

Wants N30,000 new minimum wage paid now

The workers demanded the immediate payment of the new N30,000 minimum wage as stated by President Buhari while assenting to the Act.

“There is no better May Day gift as the N30,000 new national minimum wage. We commend the National Assembly and Mr. President for acceding to our demand for an increase in the national minimum wage, however, delayed.

“As directed by Mr. President during the signing ceremony, all employers of labour must commence payment of the new national minimum wage immediately,” he said.

The organized labour called on President Buhari to create mass jobs through the diversification of the economy, and that, it should be anchored on a strong commitment to industrialization.

They said as, at last count, the combined unemployment and underemployment rate in Nigeria was 43.5 percent

Tackles IMF over subsidy removal

The workers described as unsolicited the advice by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Nigerian government should stop subsidizing petrol.

“Well, what the IMF means by subsidy removal is an increase in the pump price of petroleum products and the transfer of the cost of government’s failure to the masses,” the workers said.

They noted that the intervention of the IMF in Nigeria has always been about three issues – the removal of the so-called subsidy, petrol subsidy, Naira devaluation and opening of our borders to allow the influx of foreign goods.

“These three economic prescriptions by the IMF do not have the interest of the Nigerian people at heart as they are tailored at further impoverishing the Nigerian masses. We urge the government to take every step to pre-empt another episode of petrol scarcity as a guise for the fuel price hike.

Call for review of power privatisation

They also urged the Federal government to review the entire privatisation of the country’s power sector, lamenting that the programme has failed to improve power supply in the country.

“It is sad that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) appears soft on operators and hard on consumers. We call on the federal government now that the tenure of the DISCOs is due for renewal to review the entire privatisation exercise and come up with the best approach to deal with this challenge,” they said.

Demand special court for corruption cases

On the corruption fight of the present administration, the workers urged all Nigerians to see the fight as a collective battle which must be fought in a transparent and holistic manner.

“We also reiterate our demand for specialised courts to speed up the prosecution of all corruption cases. Corruption cases must be dispensed within a specific period of time.

Warn FG on mounting debt profile

Expressing concern over the increasing debt accumulation by governments at all levels, they warned against making it rise to the pre-2005 Paris Club level.

“Nigerians would recall that in October 2005, Nigeria and the Paris Club announced a final agreement for debt relief worth $18bn and an overall reduction of Nigeria’s debt stock by $30bn. The deal was completed on April 21, 2006, when Nigeria made its final payment and its books were cleared of any Paris Club debt,” they said.

Call for security chiefs’ removal

The workers said the consequences of the prevailing upsurge in insecurity for communal relations, the rural economy, and image of the country demands an urgent intervention by the government at all levels.

“We call on the Federal and State Governments to urgently rejig our security architecture, structure, and management,” they said.

N30,000 new wage to be fully implemented – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the new N30,000 minimum wage would be fully implemented by his administration.

The president assented to the new minimum wage law last month. With the law, the country National Minimum Wage has been upped from N18,000 to N30,000.

Represented by Osinbajo, he assured the workers that the new minimum wage would be fully implemented.

“The new national minimum wage which the president signed into law shall be fully implemented by the current administration,” he said.

We shall continue to provide an enabling environment for peace and harmony,” he said.

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