Stop Agonizing and Start Organizing – Oshiomhole tells Labour Leaders
Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, a former national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised labour leaders in the country to stop agonizing and start organizing to protect the interest of workers.
Oshiomhole gave the advise at the public presentation of a compendium of ‘Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) at 40’ publication titled: “Contemporary history of working class struggles,” in Abuja on Monday.
The former NLC president urged labour leaders to interrogate those aspiring to be president of the country on their policies and manifesto on the economy.
Oshiomhole went hard on state governors who have failed to pay the N30,000 minimum wage because of lack of funds.
He said: “The other day I saw some councils’ chairmen in a state where the N30,000 minimum wage was not being paid, and I saw NLC chairmen in those states praising these governors, even giving them awards. Where is the conscience?
“At the governors’ forum when we were debating the whole idea of whether N18,000 was reasonable, or we should deregulate minimum wage and let every state pay according to its ability, we had a Labour Party Governor in the person of Olusegun Mimiko, who supported those who said minimum wage should be abolished, deregulated according to the ability to pay.
“And I said to him: ‘When you are buying your Toyota bulletproof car, you pay the same price as Lagos. You probably will pay more depending on how much you mark it up.
“Nothing can be more humiliating to you as workers than somebody who is elected on your platform, taking a position that is completely in conflict with what you stand for.
“And that is why I will conclude by saying that all of us should look carefully. I have even told APC candidates. If you pursue absolute market forces, you don’t have me on your side because what brought us to this situation, talking about history, we must document the characters of government we interface with.
“So, if you say you do not want market forces, say so now to those who want to be president. I want you to use this moment to know that there is no such thing as a good person in government or a bad person – or a short person and a tall person. What will determine your fate are the policy choices that those in government consciously make.”
He urged Labour leaders to seek for the payment of wages equivalent to the dollar.
Speaking on the lingering ASUU strike Oshiomhole noted, “I said this before even on national television that the fact that the children of the poor are at home, is not featured in conversations on television. It’s all about politics, this is wrong. It is not an act of God. We have to fix it.”
For his part, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, Festus Osifo noted that workers have been subjugated and oppressed by the ruling class.
Osifo lamented that the N30,000 minimum wage was no longer feasible in the current economic circumstances, stressing that workers’ transportation fare to work for a month is in excess of their take home pay.
The TUC leader said: “The value of the N30,000 minimum wage has been eroded. It cannot take workers to work again”.
Osifo, who noted that the Labour movement in the country is committed to the protection of interest of workers, stressed that if not for the struggle of the founding fathers of the movement, the story would have been different today. He urged the government to recognize the power of agreement.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige admitted that inflation has eroded the purchasing power of workers who are on N30,000 minimum monthly wage.
Ngige said: “The inflation is worldwide. We shall adjust the minimum wage in conformity with what is happening and much more importantly, the 2019 Minimum Wage Act has a new clause for a review.”
He added, “that adjustment has started with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) because the stage they are with their primary employers, the Ministry of Education, there is Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
“Under the principles of offer and acceptance, which is that of collective Bargaining, ASUU can say let’s look at the offer they gave us and make counter offer, but they have not done that. If they do that, we are bound to look at their offer. These are the ingredients of collective negotiations.”