We are currently inundated with calls from all over the nation especially from the Media seeking to know ULC’s position on the proposed strike by our sister labour centres over the National Minimum wage implementation impasse.
It is important that we state at this juncture that we feel pained that a child which all the labour centres worked together in birthing is being subjected to abuse and battering by our co-midwives. We were part of the 16-Man Technical Committee that gave birth to the Tripartite Committee on the Review of the National Minimum Wage and in which we participated vigorously in all the processes leading to its negotiation and the various struggles to deliver it for the benefit of Nigerian workers and peoples.
The dynamics of the struggle dictates that we mobilise all our constituents both primary and secondary to make for a successful strike. A man that intentionally goes to war without its most critical weapons has prepared himself to fail. This is what is being projected out there in this proposed strike. We then ask ourselves why programme workers to fail in their bid? Is it to weaken the movement as a bargaining entity and make it easy for government to have its way?
Nigerian workers cannot be forced to negotiate from a position of weakness as in this case? Why would we want to go into a nation-wide strike without mobilizing all the national stakeholders and civil society organisations such as market women, students, faith-based organisations, community associations etc? Why the concerted effort to ensure that the critical sectors that would make for a successful strike are consciously sidelined?
Obviously, the proposed nation-wide strike is designed to fail or at best watered down to achieve nothing but to bring few Nigerian workers on the street to dance and wave flags without shutting down the economy which is the effect a nation-wide strike ought to have. Markets will be open, Road, Maritime and Air transports will work, Filling stations and Depots will operate, banks will work and generally, the economy will go about its business as if nothing has happened so, where is the effect of such action?
Unfortunately, this strike will not have the desired impact and would not achieve the intentions Nigerian workers would want as it is seemingly; dead on arrival as programmed by the hidden interests pushing the agenda.
ULC will not therefore be part of an exercise designed to hoodwink Nigerian workers and masses into believing that their interests were being championed while the contrary may be the case. We will not be part of this ruse neither will we partake in a complete jamboree that makes a mockery of the genuine struggle by Nigerian workers to begin to enjoy the new national minimum wage.
Once again, we want to state that we will not be part of this attempt to whittle down the capacity of Nigerian workers and masses to earn the new minimum wage. It is a planned sabotage of our collective will and desire to see a new minimum wage and we shall not be part of it. Alienating critical national stakeholders who would have insisted in organizing an effective nation-wide strike is intended to achieve only one purpose – the failure of the strike.
Once again, we call on the federal government to show more responsibility towards the immediate implementation of the new national minimum wage. We shall join hands with all willing parties to ensure that the minimum wage becomes a reality – in the hands of Nigerian workers. We shall mobilise and organize better for a more successful and focused struggle that would ensure that our collective will is pursued and protected.
– Comrade Joe Ajaero
President, United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC)