INCREMENT IN FUEL PRICE AND ELECTRICITY TARRIFF HAVE ERASED GAINS OF MINIMUM WAGE FOR WORKERS –says NLC President
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba says the high prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff if allowed at their current rates would erase the gains of the minimum wage Labour unions achieved last year December for Workers in the country.
Wabba said this on Tuesday, during the meeting between the Federal Government and labour over the hikes in prices of fuel electricity bills.
He faulted the government for unilaterally fixing the prices of electricity and petrol without consultations with Nigerians.
According to him, many Nigerians are struggling to survive because of the high cost of living, occasioned by the government’s recent policies which included the increase in the Value Added Tax.
Wabba stated, “The question now is what do you have on the table to actually cushion the effect on workers and their families because they have been pushed to the wall. They are already enraged.
“Do you have anything for us so that we can say yes, despite this challenges, this is what I have for Nigerian workers so that they can have something that can cushion this effect for them?
“Already, the value of the minimum wage has been eroded; that is the reality. If Ghana compares their minimum wage with our own, you will see their minimum wage.”
He accused the government of transferring the “inefficiency in the subsidy regime” to the consumers which they (consumers) have to pay through the hike in price.
The NLC president admonished the government to fix the nation’s refineries and stop lining the pockets of fuel through a fraudulent subsidy regime.
Wabba noted, “I agree with Mr President that subsidy is a fraud but do we address it or transfer it to the customers? That is where the issue is. We don’t need to transfer it to the customers.
“More than 90 countries of the world actually have minimum wage on this. Those are the issues that are biting very hard and workers and citizens are crying aloud that there is much burden on them.
“We have increased VAT, we have increased some taxes, we have increased now the fuel price and the electricity tariff.
Continuing, Wabba said: “An ordinary worker can’t pay those charges. In fact, higher-level officers are complaining seriously. This is the predicament we are in.
“Therefore let us also look for solutions. How do we mitigate this impact which is very pronounced on workers”?
The meeting was aimed t reaching an agreement to the effect that labour would align with government and allow the price hikes persist but it eventually ended without achieving the result.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige led the government team in the negotiation meeting while Wabba led the the labour side