PRESIDENT BUHARI IS PAYING LIP SERVICE TO N30, 000 MINIMUM WAGE
LABOUR SHOULD MOBILISE WORKERS FOR A ONE-DAY WARNING GENERAL STRIKE AND MASS PROTEST
SPN DEMANDS THE IMPLEMENTATION OF N30, 000 MINIMUM WAGE FOR ALL PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR WORKERS AND WITHOUT RETRENCHMENT
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the federal government’s poor handling of the minimum wage implementation. President Buhari’s administration’s continuous delay in the implementation of the N30, 000 (84 US dollar) monthly minimum wage has demonstrated insincerity of the government. The SPN thereby declares its solidarity and support for Nigerian workers on the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage law. We demand that this must be paid to all workers both in public and private sector and without retrenchment.
In particular, we condemn the recent declaration of the Buhari government that it would henceforth unilaterally commence payment of N30, 000 minimum wage to workers on level 7 and below, while negotiation on consequential adjustment, has not been concluded as a dishonest manoeuvre by the Buhari regime to arm-twist the labour movement in order to short-change workers. This is being presented as a decision taken in order to ensure that workers on these grade levels begin to enjoy the new minimum wage when in reality it is an attempt to carry through the same kind of implementation of the N18, 000 minimum wage in 2011 in which workers were short changed and underpaid by both the Federal and State Governments. We therefore urge Nigerian workers not to be deceived.
We therefore ask the Buhari government: On what template do you base the N30, 000 minimum wage you want to pay to workers on level 7 and below when the ongoing negotiation over the details of adjustment for all categories and levels of the workforce has not been concluded? What would be the basic wage and what would be the allowances constituting the total wage package of workers on level 7 and below including the adjustment for the various steps in between these wage levels? We are challenging the Buhari government with these questions and we demand urgent answers to them. If the government is confident that it has no hidden agenda, we challenge it to publish the details of the new structure or template on the basis of which it intends to commence the implementation of the N30, 000.
This provocative manoeuvre of the Buhari regime clearly shows that labour’s approach so far of negotiating with the oppressor without putting its army (the workers) on a “war-footing” is inadequate. While negotiations are important, regular mobilisation of members through congresses, mass meetings, symposia and rallies are important to ensure that they are battle ready.
We hereby call on the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) to immediately convene a joint meeting to deliberate and agree on a one-day warning general strike and nationwide mass protest in order to warn the federal government, and the state governments waiting in the rear, that Nigerian workers demand immediate implementation of the full value of the N30, 000 minimum wage without retrenchment. The mobilisation for this kind of general strike has to be well planned and seriously implemented in order to avoid repeating the fiasco of the May 2016 general strike.
The current stalemate between the federal government and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC) over the percentage increment is expected as every capitalist government will deny workers meaningful increment let alone paying living wage.
The N30,000 minimum wage should be implemented for all workers in private sectors as well. For the implementation of N30, 000 Minimum Wage to have any serious impact in the private sector, the trade union leaders must lead a struggle to end casualisation and outsourcing policy that is prevalent in private employment. At least70% of workers in private sector have casual and insecure employment status. They are poorly paid and do not benefit from the national minimum wage increments neither do enjoy the right to join or form a trade union.
We call on Nigerian workers and their leadership not be carried away by government’s blackmail of a depleted treasury, on which basis it is seeking to employ voodoo-mathematics in the application of the new wage increase across all levels. The salaries and allowances of political office-holders, especially members of the local governments, state house of assemblies, national assemblies as well as the executives at the state and federal level are scandalously high and should be reduced to the salaries and allowances of skilled civil servant; the wasteful and fraudulent contracts system by which roads and other projects are carried out should be eradicated and replaced with democratically managed public works and by these means huge resources can be saved and utilised for public interest. This if linked with the nationalisation of the key sectors of the economy under democratic workers control and management can ensure that more than enough is available to guarantee a living wage in order to raise the living standards of workers and their families.
As an important lesson that should not be lost on the labour movement, and especially its leadership, the Nigerian government would not easily yield to labour’s demands unless it is pressurised. It was partly electoral pressure and fear of defeat as well as workers’ protest that led to this year’s minimum wage legislation, but now that elections are not in view, workers must be ready to take to the trenches to enforce N30, 000 Minimum Wage. The present manoeuvring of the federal government is traceable to the feeble resistance that greeted the unpaid arrears of wages across states of the federation and the prevarication of labour leadership in the present struggle. It is our belief that the Nigerian ruling class has left no doubt about where it stands in matters of public policy that could change the lives of the masses; it always take the sides of big business billionaires and the politicians, and defends vigorously the privileges of this class. Employers of labour in a capitalist society resist any improvement in wage because that reduces the profit and privileges of top political office holders and private employers.
The labour leadership has to face the reality of the class struggle in the country. As a party we do not doubt the inherent capacity of the labour movement to actualise the implementation of the N30, 000 Minimum Wage in both public and private sectors if it is prepared to take the road of mass struggle.