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Just In: Labour unions take protest against minimum wage adjustment to Sanwo-Olu’s office

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have halted activities at the seat of power in Lagos, protesting against plans by Federal Government to remove issues on minimum from the Exclusive legislative list and place on the concurrent legislative list.

Both unions, who defied the scorching Sun to march from Ikeja to the seat of power, further resulted in gridlock on all route leading to the seat of power, Ikeja, Allen, Ogba, Agindingbi among others.

On arrival at the Lagos House on Wednesday, the protesters, who were armed with placards bearing different inscriptions, pulled down barricades emplaced by security operatives manning the governor’s office to gain entrance into the premises.

Some of the placards inscriptions read: National Minimum wage is our right: Don’t decentralize worker’s wages!, National minimum wages protect unorganized unskilled and the vulnerable leave it on the exclusive list, We stand by convention 131 of ILO issued in 1970, Stop importation of petrol! revive the refineries, Reduce the cost of governance now! Save the masses from poverty and hunger, Stop poverty & hunger! Reverse the price, Increase now, The government is working for the Discos, Not the Poor, Resistance protest! No to petrol price increment and others.

After gaining access into the seat of power, the protesters argued that the demonstration was to express their displeasure over the bill on the floor of National Assembly aimed at transferring the national minimum wage from the Exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list which was sponsored by the lawmaker representing Sabon-Gari federal constituency, Garba Mohammed.

They noted that the bill if passed into law would further bring disparity in the wage system across Nigeria and further enslave the citizens that were previously underpaid for their services in the country.

This protest came barely two weeks after the lawmaker presented the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives and was referred to Ad-hoc committee on constitution review.

In a joint letter signed by the union leaders, NLC chairman, Funmi Sessi, and TUC chairman, Gbenga Ekundayo, and presented to the Speaker, Mudasiru Obasa, who was represented by Nurudeen Saka-Solaja, the workers described the bill as an anti-masses plan and should be jettisoned immediately.

The letter reads: “if this anti-labour bill that seeks to hamstring the nation in her efforts to reduce poverty and inequality is presented to your State House of Assembly. We appeal to your Excellency to kindly refuse assent.

“The organized labour is not willing to sleep on its right has perfected plans to organize nationwide protests in all the thirty-six states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The protest will commence from Wednesday, 10th March 2021, and will be staged at the National Assembly and States Houses of Assembly all over Nigeria.

“The protest would be the first instance in a line of industrial actions to be undertaken by labour to buttress and drive home our point that the retaining of the National Minimum Wage in the Exclusive Legislative List is a fight for our Survival and livelihood of millions of Nigerians workers”.

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