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Security vote is also subsidy for governors, NLC 

As the controversy surrounding the removal of subsidy on petrol lingers, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has insisted that the Federal Government took the wrong step with the manner it announced the removal.


Speaking on the sideline at the ongoing 111th edition of International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, the President of NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said Nigerians were not angry enough to challenge the government on wrongdoings as they always wait for Labour to initiate the steps.


Lamenting the impoverishment of the citizens, he condemned government’s approach to issues of subsidies on items that directly affect the poor masses, saying that security votes paid to governors also amounted to subsidy.


On the meeting scheduled with the Federal Government for the 19th of this month, Ajaero said the priority was to get salary award to cushion the effects of petrol subsidy removal on workers among others. He explained that salary award was different from the minimum wage negotiation, which will come up next year.


Ajaero said: “We had that agreement with them. The agreement we had with them is not minimum wage . The agreement we had with them is wage award and it must be understood clearly. Minimum wage will be due by early next year and we will review minimum wage statutorily.


“Now that they have taken action by removing subsidy without providing anything; that is why they are talking about minimum wage and they (the federal and state governments) are talking at cross purposes. “It is all important that people understand the concept when they use minimum wage wrongly or rightly.


“We have proposed to them a wage award, which could be implemented immediately without waiting for the statutory period for the minimum wage law or for it to expire.


“What we are going to do and that is why I told is to look at the rate at which this wage award will be, whether it will be N100,000 or N20000. This will not stop the review of minimum wage by early next year. It is good we draw this demarcation.


“When they are making those proposals, they want to increase minimum wage they want to do this the ABC aspect of it to an average governor in Nigeria apart from few it will be the issue of any increase in salary is minimum wage.


“There is wage award and there is minimum wage. Even early this year, the Federal Government to some of their workers, they gave them a kind of wage award of about 40 per cent that has nothing to do with minimum wage. But it is to cushion the effects of the suffering effects of COVID-19 and others. “Now that we are having the effect of this subsidy removal, we will look at an award that will cushion it. In this country even in the 70s we had the Udoji award and others.


“So, that is the purpose whatever we are going to come up with we will achieve, but not minimum wage. “Why will you engage in minimum wage negotiations now because they remove subsidy. The ruling class especially the state governors have not abided with the minimum wage act and have not been able to convince any- body why they are not paying N30,000 minimum wage.


“They are the people who are pronouncing the salary increase. Somebody that is still paying N18, 000 when minimum wage is N30,000, if you increase it to N100,000, what will he pay? “Some of them are trying to prove that they don’t have any idea about the economy of the state. They are now saying there will be three working days and so on as a temporary measure. They have reduced productivity in a country that is having economic shock, and you reducing the days of production.


“What do you think will happen? The economy will not survive. You are telling a doctor to come to work for three days, you are telling a nurse to work for three days. And you are telling a teacher with the challenges we are having in schools to come for three days. All these things that you are seeing are ad-hoc measures that cannot provide any solution,” he said.


(New Telegraph)


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