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May Day: Nigerian labour must unite to achieve minimum wage

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Workers across Lagos State on Tuesday said that achieving a new minimum wage could take longer time if the three labour unions failed to unite and harmonise issues.

A cross section of workers spoke with the news Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during May Day rally in Lagos on their expectations on the new national Minimum Wage being considered by government.

NAN recalls that the present N18,000 minimum wage was approved and paid seven years ago by the past government led by former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr Raphael Okoro, President, Africa Railway Workers, told NAN that the division among the labour centres was a major delay in the quick approval of a new minimum wage.

“The unity of the labour movement will hasten the approval and payment of a new minimum wage. Government is also capitalisiang on the division to delay in the approval,’’ Okoro said.

He urged the labour leaders to hamonise their differences and work together for the interest of the workforce and unity of the people.

Mr Innocent Orji-Kalu, a railway worker, said that there was need to increase the wage of Nigeria workers because inflation had eroded the current N18,000 minimum wage.

Orji-Kalu said that government should look into the demands of the three centres and take quick action to give workers a minimum wage that would ameliorate their sufferings.

Another worker, Mr Gregory Olatunji, General Secretary, National Union of Lottery Agents and Employees Lottery Union, told NAN that to achieve a new wage would take a lot of struggle because of the division in the labour centres.

“The recent public hearing by the Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage shows that the government will take some time to approve a new wage if workers do not struggle for it,’’ Olatunji said.

He urged the TUC, NLC and ULC to unite to ensure that the welfare of workers are improved.

Okonu Abdullahi of the Private telecommunications and Communications Senior Staff Association of Nigeria appealed to the government to hasten the approval of a new minimum wage to stop abuse of workers rights.

He said that many workers have no condition of service and were forced to receive any amount, adding that the new minimum wage would improve their income.

He appealed to the government to enact law to stop casualization, expatriate quota and anti-women activities.

NAN recalls that while the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress demanded for an increase in Minimum Wage of N66,500, the United Labour Congress (ULC) has demanded for N96,000.

However, the Federal Government Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage on April 27 held a public hearing across the country to gather inputs from stakeholders on a new minimum wage. (NAN)

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