Still On Nigerian Workers’ Plight


Nigerian workers joined their counterparts in the world to commemorate the May Day also known as Workers Day. The event which was low-keyed in various parts of the country evidences the economic realities facing the Nigerian state.
Workers’ Day celebration, an annual ritual to mark the struggle for better working conditions, indeed, climaxed in the actualization of an eight-hour work day as against the 10-16 hours per day witnessed in Chicago, United States of America (USA) on May 1, 1886, the date usually remembered for the emancipation, or better still, the liberalization of workers.
Ever since that epoch, May 1 of every year has become a unique event for the working class in several countries to take a deep retrospection on the struggles and well-being of workers as well as to demand for better working conditions and environment.
Scores of countries, including Nigeria usually declare May 1, every year as public holiday as a mark of respect for workers to societal development and to provide a platform for inter-face with the working class with a view to charting the way forward.
With the theme: Labour Movement In National Development: Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win, workers used the occasion to press for the implementation of a new National Minimum Wage which is long over-due by law.
At various rallies at the Federal, State and local government areas, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other sister labour organizations urged the federal authorities to speedily implement a living wage for workers, against the backdrop that the current N18,000 can no longer take workers home in view of the prevailing economic realities.
While The Tide agrees no less with the position of labour, we think that leadership of labour has really lost focus as compared to the days of Micheal Imoudu, Hassan Sumonu, Adams Oshiomohle, just to name a few, who dared the authorities during their stewardship and did the needful by giving labour movement the desired mileage for workers welfare.
We recall how these veteran labour leaders kept several dispensations of government on their toes by ensuring that workers got their due entitlements and emoluments as at when due.
The situation now is entirely different as labour in Nigeria has been so politicized to the extent that leadership has lost direction and perhaps only interested in cutting corners and short-changing the system for personal gains.
Leadership lethargy has, indeed, robbed Nigerian workers of their welfare as backlog of unpaid wages and entitlements, some running into several months with labour leadership turning a blind eye over the pathetic and pitiable disposition of the worker.
It is, infact, regrettable that leadership of various labour unions in the country is so incapacitated to fight for workers welfare to the extent that leaders are in government or employers payroll in order to shut up their mouths or eyes over workers plight.
Quite frankly, the issue of new National Minimum Wage would have been over by now, if our labour leaders are vibrant and focused like some of their predecessors of old who sacrificed their personnel interests in their campaign for better package for the workers.
The Tide therefore strongly support and demand for a reasonable living wage, not the current dead wage which does not take the worker home.
We condemn in strong terms Federal Government’s foot-dragging and antics to further delay the implementation of a new wage regime for the Nigerian worker.
It is expected that labour leaders should give Federal government a time-line to implement a new wage as the current one has been made a mince meat by inflation. We expect the labour movement to be responsible and responsive and ensure that federal government keeps to its promise to implement a new wage regime by the third quarter of the year.
We are, indeed, unhappy with series of schemes employed to deliberately delay the process and labour must resist these antics geared towards further impoverishing the worker.
We totally endorse the position of NLC, TUC and others who are insisting on N66,500 minimum wage as the N18,000 wage implemented in 2011 is now unrealistic and untenable as Nigerian workers are among the least paid in the world.