Raymond Ozoji, Awka
As the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) gears up for its planned November 6 nationwide indefinite strike on account of the inability of the government of the federation to accept payment of N30,000 new national minimum wage, the Senator representing Anambra-central senatorial district at the Red Chambers Sen.Victor Umeh has said that the federal government’s option for a court order to stop the strike will not resolve the issue, instead it will further aggravate the situation.
Umeh stated this at the Awka-South local government headquarters at the weekend while responding to questions from journalists on the planned industrial action by labour from November 6 this year.
He said that the federal government should not bluff workers when dealing with them, pointing out that even if the federal government got a court order to stop labour from embarking on strike, workers must go on strike to press home demands for better working conditions and welfare packages.
The Senator opined that the federal government should engage labour in a meaningful dialogue and that the only dialogue was for the FG to consider the money workers were demanding and whether in all sincerity a Nigerian worker could run a home with N22,500 salary per month as proposed by governors.
He also stressed that Nigerian workers did not have living wage and that the federal government should no longer pretend that there was no money when a lot of people were living in affluence while workers languished in abject penury.
According to him, what Nigerian workers deserve is a living wage not the N30,000 they were currently agitating for emphasising that “there is nobody in his employ that earns below N40,000 a month. Many people earn N70,000, N50,000, N100,000 and above, so I don’t know why government is very adamant in the plight of workers. The governors that are saying that they will pay workers N22,500; how can a worker use N22,500 a month to look after his or her family?”
Umeh stressed, “I work in the Senate and I know that there’s money we appropriated in the budget; this year alone over N9 trillion was in the budget and N500 billion was dedicated to special projects to fight poverty. Where is the money?
“They said they spent about N24 billion every month; I am from Anambra state and I have not seen where the money was applied. Government should learn how to manage their resources and pay workers the money they are asking for. My gateman earns about N35,000 every month even cleaners. So why should government say a man with about seven children should go home with N22,500 a month?”
He maintained that government should know that it was not only those in leadership positions that should have access to the nation’s treasury and that N30,000 can’t solve problems in homes. He said leaders should cut down on excess expenditures alleging that so much money was being filtered away through conduit pipes.