Minimum wage saga: Shelve planned strike for sake of poor masses, Eze pleads with Labour

…..Urges government to reduce the huge cost of governance

An appeal has gone to the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to seek other means of pressing for its demand for increased minimum wage, other than embarking on an industrial strike.

Making the appeal in a statement circulated to the media in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, a renowned good governance advocate and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, also expressed his support for the Labour’s demands for better conditions of service, including a salary increment, for its members.

To meet midway and make shouldering the responsibilities of state easier for government, Eze also charged the federal government to start giving a serious thought to the call for cut in the huge cost of governance in the country and use whatever is realised through this to augment catering for the people.

Eze, a former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) gave the hint on the backdrop of the failed dialogue between the Federal Government negotiation team and the Joint National Public Service Negotiation Council, which represents labour unions for the implementation of a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

The APC chieftain, who said his decision to throw his weight behind the Labour in its demands followed the discoveries he made after taking a cursory look at the plights of Nigerian workers added that an increase in salary as demanded by labour unions is necessary, justifiable and in order but should be done in a way not to collapse governance and crippling of other developmental programs of the government. 

He, however, appealed to the Labour unions to shelf the idea of embarking on a national industrial action, noting that besides the fact that such would cost the nation huge financial losses, it will impose heavy tolls on the ordinary Nigerian, stressing that other techniques could be deployed to drive home their demand.

Recall that few days ago, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) issued circulars to state councils, directing them to warm up for an indefinite strike action, beginning from Wednesday, the 16th of October, 2019, if the Federal Government fails to yield to her demands on the consequential adjustment of salaries, arising from the new minimum wage.

The party chief highlighted that Labour is demanding 29% salary increase for workers on salary level 07 to 14 and 24% adjustment for officers on grade level 15 to 17 whereas FG had proposed an 11% salary increase for workers on  grade level 7 to 14 and 6.5% adjustment for those at grade level 15 to 17.

Eze reiterated that based on the books presented by the Federal Government if the government implements the current position and demands of Labour it entails that government may be left with no other option but to lay off some of her workers and stop further developments in both education, health, agriculture, security and other sectors of our economy. No patriotic union will prefers such inimical situation which will be detrimental to the general wellbeing of larger population of Nigeria.

Chief Eze, a renowned media practitioner, further appealed to labour unions to reconsider the planned industrial action for national interest and give a thought to the Federal Government’s offer stressing that the APC-led FG has shown genuine commitment towards improving the lot of Nigerian workers through regular and timely payment of salaries, emoluments, entitlements and other sundry allowances due them.

Chief Eze expressed satisfaction over the commitment of Governors El – Rufai of Kaduna, Fayemi of Ekiti and Makinde of Oyo states towards the welfare of workers in their various states, especially, the implementation of the N30,000.00 minimum wage in their domain.

He tasked other governors to learn form El-Rufai and others, stressing that workers deserve better from government considering the energy and commitment they exert in their works in a bid to move government and government businesses forward.

The party chieftain urged the National Assembly and past leaders of the country to, as a matter of expediency, intervene in the looming industrial action to save the country from being plunged into what he termed a  face-off between government and workers.

While commending the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, for his display of sincerity and deep sense of diplomacy in handing labour related matters, Eze counselled the administration of  President Mohammadu Buhari to consider cutting the huge cost of governance, which, according to him, is having a negative toll on the nation’s economy and affecting the livelihoods of the  poor masses for whom government exists. 

He backed the call for a unicameral legislature for the country as a way of saving the huge budgetary allocations earmarked for lawmakers in the two chambers of the National Assembly which perform similar  functions, describing the practice as  ‘duplication of function’ and ‘wasteful’.

He further opined that government officials must consider reducing their large number of aides and channel resources to meaningful ventures that will create jobs and generate revenue to meet the demands of workers whom he described as ‘the engine of government’.

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