THE United Action for Democracy has unequivocally thrown its weight behind the Nigeria Labour Congress’ condemnation of the statement credited to Governor Abdulaziz Yari OF Zamfara state as Chair of the Governors’ Forum, seeking to roll back the National Minimum Wage of N18, 000.00.
The National Convener of UAD, Comrade Baba Aye pointed out that this is an affront to the entire working class-people and heralds a planned attempt to derail negotiations for an upward review of the N18,000 pittance, which NLC and TUC are set to initiate, in line with the re-opener clause in the 2011 National Minimum Wage Act.
He further pointed out that the governors have merely unveiled the fact that, for the bosses and politicians, “rule of law” is not so sacrosanct when it is workers’ welfare and wellbeing that is at stake.
Noting that the meagre amount was passed into law as a minimum wage by the National Assembly, he wondered why governors who are supposed to respect the rules of the legislative arm of government, which they are a part of, can boldly hint that they are ready to break the law.
It can be recalled that the National Assembly passed that miserly amount into law, after it initially passed a resolution for the national minimum wage to be N36, 000 at the time that the trade unions demanded nothing less than N52, 000. Thus, anything can be expected from the National Assembly as much as from the executives during negotiations for a review as envisaged.
UAD totally agrees with the NLC that “ability to pay minimum wages is not the problem of the economy. What is the problem for states and other tiers of government is the amount (that) many political office holders and their unproductive aides take away as wages. For the private sector, the creed to accumulate more and more profit is also always a motivating factor to keep wages down.”
Thus, not only do workers require a living wage as the national minimum wage, this has to be tied to the demand for reduction in the cost of governance. There is no justifiable reason for politicians to “earn” the outrageous amounts they pocket or for bosses of corporations to continue to pay themselves mind blowing bonuses, while the workers whose labour creates the social wealth are left to leave in penury.
It noted that a democracy that allows and indeed promotes such, he argued, is nothing but a government of rich people, by rich people, for rich people, over the poor working class-people. UAD, he stated, stands for working people’s democracy which is the real democracy because the working class-people constitute the immense majority of the population. He stressed the need for elected representatives to earn no more than the average wages of the people they represent if indeed they are not merely representing a few rich people while claiming to represent the mass of Nigerians.
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