AHEAD of today’s Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, a faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, led by Joe Ajaero, yesterday, rejected the N56,000 national minimum wage proposal reportedly sent to the Federal Government by the Ayuba Wabba-led NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, saying it was not in tune with economic realities faced by workers. At a pre-May Day symposium, titled, “Inclusive Socio-Economic Space for Sustainable Development”, Ajaero told his audience that his faction of NLC was not part of the N56,000 proposal because the cost of living today and other socio-economic realities workers were faced with in the midst of the current exchange rate of the Nigerian currency, it was obvious that the N56,000 was off the mark.
The NLC he led, the factional NLC leader stated, was demanding N90,000 national minimum wage based on the current exchange rate, noting that should the exchange rate go above N500 per dollar, NLC would demand for more than N90,000. He said: “No sacrifice is too much to liberate the Nigerian workers. Every year, we go to the stadium to salute those who have been enslaving us, those who have refused to pay us minimum living national wage. But since last year, we have been forced to gather under the bridge of the National Stadium, which we have named `Workers Freedom Square’. We will gather, match through the streets, take the May Day to the real owners, the Nigerian workers and masses, to tell them that there is no electricity despite the astronomical tariff, that there is no fuel, that there are no good roads, that public universities are being closed down, that there are no jobs and so on and so forth. “Few days ago, we were told that N56.000 minimum wage proposal has been sent to the government. We want to tell you that we are not part of that because even as they were sending the proposal, they equally said that they know that the economy is bad. By the time you say that, it means that the proposal is dead on arrival. We all know that the current minimum wage is less that the electricity bill paid by most workers. On our part, we are demanding N90,000 minimum wage. The N90,000 we are demanding is with a proviso, depending on the exchange rate. If the exchange rate goes above N500 a dollar, we will ask for more.” Delivering the pre-May Day symposium, human rights activist and former lecturer at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State, Dr. Femi Aborishade, called for a united struggle for a national living minimum wage as prescribed by the Constitution. According to him, Ajaero, Wabba led NLC and TUC should unite and come out with a national living minimum wage, because the ruling class had institutionalized poverty, unemployment and illiteracy among others.