As workers, the world over mark this year’s May Day celebrations, various unions in Nigeria have called for an urgent increase in the minimum wage of workers in the country.
In separate statements, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC), among others, listed the needs of their members to the three tiers of the government in the country.
Besides the call for the review of the minimum wage, the unions advocateed improved security, reduction in rate of unemployment, payment of backlog of salaries and fight against corruption.
The NLC President, Ayuba Waba, said, “As usual, we are pushing for the interest of workers, not only workers, but the interest of the Nigerian public, from social and economic angle to security angle, down to issue of strategic institutions like power.
“All of this will be accommodated in our address. All issues pertaining to development will also be addressed because it’s when the economy is doing well that citizens of the country will also do well, and side by side with the issue of good governance.
“But most importantly, the well-being of the worker will be pushed to the front burner because if workers create wealth then, they need better attention.”
On his part, ULC President, Joe Ajaero, decried the hardline position of the government against the call for the review of wages for workers in the country.
He said, “This is why we need to be on the streets to insist that working conditions of the people must be improved.
“ULC deeply appreciates and congratulates all workers for their continued perseverance against all odds, to continue creating the wealth which has sustained this nation within the ambit of the current unrelenting pressures of crass neglect and marginalization by the impenitent owners of capital, supported by their collaborators in the corridors of power.
“Once again, we urge government at all levels to address, among others, insecurity, unemployment, hunger, deprivations, fear, poverty, homelessness and, much more, overwhelming exclusion and alienation of increasing number of the masses from public social services and infrastructure.”
The National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber and Non-Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLANMPE), the Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU) and others also made similar calls to government and employers of labour.
But in a message, Labour and Employment Minister, Chris Ngige, extoled workers, who he said have remained hopeful irrespective of the economic challenges faced by the country.
Mr. Ngige, was represented at the May Day rally by the Deputy Director of Press in the ministry, Olowookere Samuel.
“The Federal Government is not unaware of the economic challenges facing Nigerian workers in the public, the private and informal sectors of the economy. We appreciate your resilience and hope for better days ahead,” Mr. Ngige said in his address.
“Mr. President is committed to the enhancement of workers’ welfare, through programmes like the Federal Integrated Staff Housing Scheme (FISH) creation of enabling environment to stimulate the economy with the aim of improving the social-economic well-being of Nigeria in all sectors of the economy.
“As we celebrate today, I urge Nigerian workers not to relent in their support to the Change Agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.”