NLC gives FG 14 Days ultimatum to implement agreements

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it suspended the second day(28th February ) of the  planned two-day  nationwide peaceful protest against the hardship being experienced in Nigeria presently, because, the  Federal Government has asked for a 7-day grace to implement the  agreements with labour  and that  some states that were not paying minimum wage have approved payments.

Pix- NLC,Enugu leadership

The Labour union however, said it has given the Federal Government 14 Days ultimatum to implement the agreement ,and failure to do so will attract a legally backed action against the Federal Government.

Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress,  Enugu State Council, Comrade. Fabian Nwigbo, disclosed that while briefing newsmen on Wednesday at the NLC Secretariat, Enugu.

He said the NLC set aside 27th and 28th February , for  peaceful protests against some government ‘s decisions that had produced  hardship to Nigerians. His words, ” We said yesterday that we are  going to let Nigerians know that we are not part of the people that brought hardship upon us. Of course , we are also suffering,  we have never conspired with anybody or compromised,  all of us are in this suffering . 

Pix- Comrade Nwigbo

“First of all, in 2019, government said they were paying us N30,000 minimum wage. In 2019,fuel price was less than N150 and we were given N30,000 minimum wage for those who were lucky to have it because we understand that some states up till today, have  not implemented that .

Since 2019 till date , a lot had happened. Today, fuel is N700 per liter depending on where you are burying, your location and the minimum wage remained N30,000.

“When  the present government of Tinubu came 29Th May,2023, he told us on that faithful day that  he was sworn -in that subsidy is gone and since then , the pains, the suffering has got horrible than  it was before. Then,  a bag of Cement was sold N3,000, N2,700, N2,900  and last week , a bag of cement  is sold for  N13,000, N15,000, depending on the location. Cost of living rose to unimaginable height, such that even if minimum wage is N500,000 and tbe economic activities remained what they are today i, it is difficult for anybody to survive.

“Look around to  see the number of deaths. People died every day. It’s as a result of their inability to give us good governance for people to take care of themselves. You find out that workers’ salaries remained  constant, every other thing changes and we are saying that enough is enough”, he said..

Comrade Nwigbo  further said, “as we are suffering, every other person is suffering.  After our protest yesterday, we had our NEC meeting  and thanked Nigerians  as   I had done today. They came out enmasse. That goes to show you that people were suffering. They are no longer comfortable with what is happening in the system. We learnt that a bag of  Rice is over N100,000 ( 50kg) ,and minimum wage is N30,000, so if  you keep your salary for three months you cannot buy a bag of 50Kg rice. So, we have a lot of challenges in our hands, that ‘s why we are crying out.”, Comrade Nwigbo said.

He disclosed that  they received a report that the Federal Government had plans to meet up labour demands and that was why they suspended tbe proposed Wednesday protest. The NLC chairman added that they also got reports that Federal Government  has started paying the N35,000 wage award, but they only paid  September,2023 and some states that were not paying minimum wage  had approved payments.

Explaining why the suspension of the second day protest, Comrade Nwigbo said the Federal government asked NLC  for a 7-Day grace to implement the agreements but NLC gave them 14 Days to see if they were truthful with what they said, “and that was why we suspended the protest, ” he said.

 He disclosed that after 14 days, if the Federal Government failed to keep the agreements and better the lives of the people, they will come together National Executive Council (NEC) and take decisions.

“Like I told you, if after 14 days, nothing reasonable, nothing has happened manifestly to show that there is a positive difference, definitely, we will come together and look at what the law permits us to do., which includes indefinite strike, which includes further demonstration , which includes warning strikes and we will look at what is more potent for us to take . We are  not going to fold our arms. We are out , we will continue  until an average Nigerian gets what he wants,” Nwigbo said 

Fielding questions from newsmen on why Trade Union Congress(TUC) did not join in the protest, the NLC chairman said  they were working together with TUC, explaining that ,while “TUC is saying  borders should be opened to ensure that consumable  are. brought into the country and NLC says Nigerians are suffering, at the end of the day, all of them  are struggling to see that Nigeria gets better. 

“The difference is the process we followed to ensure that we get desired results, to ensure that hunger is reduced, to ensure that insecurity is reduced in Nigeria”, he said.

On why they did not take the protest  to the streets of the Enugu, the NLC chairman said the police said they cannot afford to  contain what may come out. “That they can guarantee our safety here within and  around Secretariat but not  beyond because they don’t know what is awaiting us. In their own way, they had their reasons. We were thinking that ordinarily, they would have just  increased the number of manpower but they know the best.  When it comes to security they are ahead of us,”Nwigbo said .

On insecurity, he lamented high rate of insecurity in the country ,attributing that to a major reason for high cost of living .  ” The cost of food items had reason beyond acceptable level because Farmers don’t go to farm again. We heard that in some parts of the North, you have to pay tax before you could access you farm, to the bandits, which means they are not faceless, they are known and we are saying government should go after them ,so as to allow an average Nigerian rest”, Nwigbo said

Author: Maureen Ikpeama 

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