COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF AN EMERGENCY MEETING OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC) OF THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS (NLC) HELD ON TUESDAY 23RDOCTOBER, 2018 AT THE PASCAL BAFYAU LABOUR HOUSE, CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT, ABUJA
The National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) took place on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 at Pascal Bafyau Labour House, Abuja. The meeting was attended by member of the National Administrative Council (NAC), Presidents, General Secretaries and Treasurers of the affiliate Industrial unions. The Chairpersons of the 36 State Councils and FCT also attended the meeting.
The NEC-in-session received the report on the conclusion of the sittings of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiating Committee that took place on October 4 & 5, 2018. NEC took note that the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiating Committee arrived at N30,000 as the figure to be recommended to the Federal Government at the conclusion of its sitting.
The NEC noted with dismay how the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, tried to twist the truth by misinforming the public that the meeting of October 4 and 5, 2018 was inconclusive as the members of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage did not agree on a figure.
B. The NEC-in-session after extensive deliberationsAFFIRMEDas follows:
1. The NEC approved the recommendation presented by the leadership of Organized Labour which viewed the antics of the Minister of Labour and Employment as anti-labour and anti-workers especially with regards to the Minister’s utterances which the NEC deemed as an act of bad faith intended to scuttle the work of the Committee on the new national minimum wage;
2. The NEC debunked, rejected and condemned the Minister’s claims in the media that negotiations are still ongoing on the issue of a New National Minimum Wage which implementation is already long overdue;
3. The NEC is disturbed by government’s new offensive against Organized Labour and workers’ rights as contained in a report submitted to the Federal Executive Council by the Minister of Labour and Employment and on which Government has issued a White Paper. The NEC views this latest posture by government as calculated to cow workers into submission as well as stop Labour from protesting against Government’s foot dragging on the new national minimum wage. The NEC noted that Government’s assault on Organized Labour comprises:
i) Emphasis on the “no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act;
ii) Fixing of tenure for workers holding union executive positions in contravention of the provisions of ILO Convention 87; and,
iii) Prohibition or exclusion of non-card carrying members of trade unions from leading or being part of negotiation delegations of trade unions reminiscent of the Abacha military era.
C. The NEC-in-session based on the foregoingRESOLVED as follows:
1. To organizea national day of mobilization and sensitization rallies for all workers to show their outrage and mourning in the 36 states of the federation and FCT on Tuesday, 30thOctober, 2018. The day will also be used to educate and sensitize Nigerians on the horrendous plight of workers and pensioners, the insensitivity and duplicity of Government on labour issues, and to protest the proposed obnoxious policies of government against Organized Labour;
2. To hold joint organ meetings of the Central Working Committees (CWCs) of all the Labour Centres on November 2, 2018 for final preparations for a full engagement with Government on the national minimum wage;
3. Tocommence an indefinite national strikeand industrial actions from November 6, 2018; except government accepts and commences the process of perfecting the payment of N30,000 as the negotiated and compromise new national minimum wage before that date.
D. In furtherance of this, NEC-in-sessionDIRECTEDall affiliate unions, state councils, civil society allies, the informal sector and other friends of workers and lovers of democracy to commence immediate mobilization of their members;
1. The NEC advised Nigerians to start stocking food and other necessities of life as workers will ensure a total shutdown of the country;
2. The NEC-in-session similarly condemned Government for its design/plan to clamp down on Labour via selective and erroneous invocation of the ‘no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act, noting that the right to strike is both a human and trade union right and cannot be abridged as it is what distinguishes a worker from a slave; there is nothing new about this clause as it has been in our statutes for over forty years;
3. The NEC-in-session advised the government to look at the log in its eyes before picking out the speck in other people’s eyes. The NEC also demanded from government to uphold the principles of the rule of law, fairness, equity and justice by invoking “no pay, no work”;
4. The NEC, accordingly, resolved that the threat of “no work… no pay” will not deter it from embarking on strike when necessary as it has always complied with legal requirements precedent and will always comply with those requirements. The NEC-in-session urges Nigerian workers to disregard government’s directive on “no work, no pay” because workers are already being impoverished and being owed arrears of salaries;
5. The NEC observed that government’s designs to influence the tenure of union executives and membership of unions negotiating teams, constitute a direct interference in the internal affairs of the unions in direct contravention of the Articles 3, 4 and 8 of ILO Convention 87 (to which Nigeria is a signatory since 1960) which state inter alia:
i. “Workers and employers’ organizations shall have the right to draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organize their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes”;
ii. “The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict the right or impede the lawful exercise thereof”;
iii. “Workers and employers’ organizations shall not be liable to be dissolved or suspended by administrative authority”;
iv. “The law of the land shall not be such as to impair, nor shall it be applied as to impair, the guarantees provided for in this Convention ….”;
6. Accordingly, the NEC-in-session resolved to advise Government to shelve its White Paper or risk being reported to the ILO;
7. The NEC also resolved not to be bound by the latest White Paper by government against labour as it is an illegality and a throwback to the dark days of fascism which Organized Labour successfully confronted.
In conclusion, this communique serves as formal notice to government that the NLC will commence an indefinite national strike and industrial actions from November 6, 2018; except government accepts and commences the process of perfecting the payment of N30,000 as the negotiated and compromise new national minimum wage on or before that date.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni
Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson