Ex-labour chief lauds FG, labour on new wage deal

Whatapp News



By Deborah Coker

Benin – A former President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Peter Esele, has commended the Federal Government and organised labour for finally resolving their differences on the new minimum wage consequential adjustments.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that government and labour have been at odds over a long overdue wage review that was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari since April 18, this year.

Both parties could not agree on consequential adjustments on various grades for workers, prompting labour leaders to issue threats of strike repeatedly.

Civil servants in Africa’s most populous nation have been at the receiving end of a slave-wage, although political office holders in the top oil exporting nation earn some of the fattest salaries in the world, according to analysts.

Speaking in an interview with a NAN correspondent in Benin on Saturday, Esele said his commendation was necessary because it was better to jaw-jaw and get a resolution than to war-war to get a resolution.

“This is because we will need each other tomorrow and it is good to avoid a situation where one side will be happy and the other side will be not.”

The veteran unionist said that some people always held the view that labour was all about strike, disclosing that experience had taught him that the Nigerian labour leadership had not always enjoyed calling workers out for strike.

According to him, during strike everybody pays for it and the nation is worse for it.

He noted that the truce brokered on the wage matter portended something good for future relationships between government and organised labour.

The former TUC chief also lauded the understanding shown by government and labour in shifting their previous hardline stances to reach a deal.

Esele expressed his optimism that State Governments would learn from the Federal Government and put machineries in motion to ensure that state councils of labour started their own negotiations.

He said the gesture would help to ensure that the N30, 000 minimum wage would be paid together with the consequential adjustments to workers in the states.

“I believe there is money to pay. So, let nobody say that paying workers N30, 000 minimum wage is doing workers a favour.

“What you have now is that the N30, 000 minimum wage is less than $100 per month for the least paid worker.

“When we did the N18, 000 minimum wage, it was $120. So you may see the quantum leap in naira but there is no quantum leap in purchasing power.

“Since purchasing power has reduced, state governors must pay.  State governors have to pay.

“But for the Federal Government, they have always been very responsive. There may be disagreements and hardline positions from them at the onset but the Federal Government always turns around and makes the payment.

“So I think the Federal Government deserves commendation for this. The minister of labour deserves commendation and the president deserves commendation.

“So, it’s my hope that the president should reach out to governors and ensure that they respect the laws of the land.’’

(NAN)

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