02 May 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – The United Labour Congress, ULC, has said that the N96,000 it has proposed as national minimum wage was tenable, rational, realistic and affordable for every state in the country.
The labour union also disagreed with the proposal by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, that states should be allowed to fix their separate minimum wages in line with their financial capacity to pay.
Speaking at the 2018 May Day rally in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Chairman of ULC, Mr. Charles Eleto, wondered how the country can afford jumbo salaries for lawmakers at the National Assembly, irrespective of their state of origin, while an average Nigerian worker goes home with ‘two pence’.
Eleto argued that the country was rich enough to afford N96,000 as minimum wage, assuring that the union have all it takes to defend the Nigerian workers.
He also chided the Rivers State government for failing to recognise ULC, as a labour centre in the state.
According to him, “The ULC believes that N96,000 should be a minimum wage, while N113,000 should be the living wage.
“Why is it that when it gets to wages for workers that laboured we talk about different financial capacity of state? Whereas members of the National Assembly receives the same amount of salary not minding the states they come from.
“We have the Senators and the House of Reps members receiving the same salaries, why would it be workers that can be transferred from one state to another that his salary will be peanuts because of the states he comes from.
“The job people are doing here is the same job people are doing in other states.
“That is why we disagree with the Rivers State government that said discussion on salary should be given to states. Let the proposed N96,000 be approved and every state must pay, any state that refused to pay, workers should demand their money from the government.”
Also speaking, the National Treasurer of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, an affiliate of ULC, Mr. Alex Agwangwor, regretted that states claiming inability to pay workers N18,000, were paying government house staff an amount more than the minimum wage.
Agwangwor said due to the inflation rate and economic sitation in the country, N96,000 was just the right amount for an average worker to take home.
“Politicians are the ones that made us to think there are no money to pay workers salaries. In some states, even in those states that say they cannot pay N18,000 people working in the government house are earning more than N18,000.
“Remember this present administration provided bailout funds for states to pay salaries, how many of the states actually use that money to pay workers salary? Many state governors diverted that money.”