Organised labour leaders in Ondo State have marched out en masse to sensitise workers on plans to embark on a nationwide protest to demand N30,000 as the new minimum wage.
The labour leaders, who walked on the streets of Adegbemile through Oba Adesida road and Arakale street in Akure said Nigerian workers were angry with the government over its refusal to implement the proposed minimum wage.
SaharaReporters reports that the protesting union leaders were armed with placards bearing different inscriptions such as: ‘N30,000 Minimum Wage is Constitutional, Pls Buhari Do Needful Now’, ‘Ngige is An Enemy to Buhari’s Progress’, ‘Chris Ngige, Enemy of Nigerian Workers, Resign Now’, ‘N30,000 Minimum Wage is Affordable’, ‘Pensioners are Part of Us, They Deserve Best Treatment and Allowance’, ‘Workers are Great Stakeholders in the Nigerian Project’ and ‘Nigerian Workers Votes Have Multiplier Effect, Check Ekiti and Osun, Pay N30,000 Now’.
They chanted solidarity songs and hurled abusive words on Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Productivity, and accused him of “playing politics with the destiny of workers on the issue of the new minimum wage”.
Denja Yaqub, Assistant Secretary (Information Unit) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), who came from Abuja to join the rally, said there was no going back on proposed N30,000 as the new minimum wage for government workers.
He said: “Even, this sum of N30,000 that we are demanding as minimum wage is too low for us as public workers. There is no government in this our country that cannot pay N100,000 as minimum wage, if they can cut down their expenses, but they wouldn’t want to do it. They prefer flying chartered and private jets from one place to another with tax payers’ money.
“We have all resolved that if they did not pay us N30,000, then we will not vote during the 2019 elections.”
Tayo Ogunleye, Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress in Ondo State also stressed that the labour leaders have agreed that there would be no going back on the N30,000.
“Today’s rally in Ondo State is being replicated across the states of the federation for the demand of a new minimum wage of N30,000. We are on the streets to sensitise people of Nigeria, that by November 6, 2018, the workers are coming out en masse to protest for their right.
“Let me tell us today that there is no success without struggle, and in this part of the country, if you don’t fight for your right, nobody would do so for you. We, the Nigerian workers, are angry and as a collective effort, we have resolved to put our destiny into our hands to demand for our wage. So, if by November the government failed to implement this minimum wage, we will withdraw our services to show that enough is enough,” he said.
In his address, Soladoye Ekudayo, Chairman of the Trade Union Congress in Ondo State, said: “We are here today to mobilise and sensitise our workers and the whole people of Nigeria that organised labour will not go back on N30,000 as the minimum wage for workers.
“By November 6, 2018, the entire workers of Nigeria will go on nationwide strike if the government fails to implement this demand.
“It has always been the normal phenomenon and characteristics of the government of Nigeria to reach an agreement and later breach such agreement, mostly when it comes to industrial labour issues. This Federal government agreed with the Labour Union on N30,000 as minimum wage, but decided to backtrack, and when it comes to the allowance of politicians, you don’t have this problem.
“Sadly, when it comes to issues of the workers, that is when we have this type of problem. No governor or president has ever come out to tell us the actual amount they earn. So, telling us that they don’t have money to pay us as minimum wage is just a joke.”
The labour leaders marched to the Alagbaka Government House, where they presented a protest letter titled: ‘We are Angry’ to the Ondo State Government.
Receiving the letter, Toyin Akinkuotu, the State Head of Service (HoS), said the government would look critically into the agitation of the workers as their demand was crucial at this period of time.
He said: “We have listened to your demand that this letter would be presented to Mr. Governor upon his arrival back to the state, and let me assure that your demand will be met.
“I know that the Government of Ondo State and Nigeria would look into this demand and it would be met and it may even go beyond N30,000.”