[From INI BILLIE, Uyo
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Akwa Ibom Chapter on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest to the State House of Assembly complex.
The protest is against the bill seeking to move the national minimum wage from the exclusive list to the concurrent list.
NLC State Chairman, Comrade Sunny James in company of leaders of Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other affiliate union, staged a road walk from Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat to the House of Assembly complex to present a petition to the Speaker, Mr Aniekan Bassey.
The protesters carried placards with inscription like, “Leave National Minimum wage on exclusive list”, “Remove corruption and inefficiency in refineries” and “Fuel Scarcity, fix our refineries now” among other inscriptions.
In their petition, the labour groups said the bill was against the laws of labour, the interest of Nigerian workers and unacceptable by the union in the state and country.
James said the national minimum wage was not a Nigerian standard but an international standard, stressing that over 20 countries across the world have minimum wage in their exclusive list.
The NLC state chairman said the current national minimum wage was negotiated with all stakeholders, including all the state governments before it became Law, which has not been implemented by all state governments as at date.
James warned that labour and all its affiliates would resist any attempt to deny Nigerian workers payment of minimum wage.
He urged members of the national assembly to focus their energy in making laws that would uplift the welfare of Nigerians, instead of making laws to increase the people suffering.
“The labour is saying, build new refineries everywhere in this country, and let us refine our petroleum products and sell it within ourselves.
“Instead of making a law to say we (NLC) won’t have food to eat. National Assembly should make law against insecurity, that anybody caught with AK-47 should go to life imprisonment,” he said.
Responding, on behalf of the Speaker, the Clerk of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, Mrs Mandy Umoren, said the State House of Assembly would support the struggle of Nigerian workers.
She said that the speaker, Mr Aniekan Bassey, is a worker’s friendly speaker that would not do anything against the interest of Nigerian workers.
She stated that the petition would be given to the speaker, and assured that the state government would be in support of the labour minimum wage struggle.
She said, “Akwa Ibom State was one of the very first states to implement the minimum wage, and I want to believe that the State Government would not go back as pressured by the National Assembly.
“The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and other Houses of Assembly are in Abuja to protest the non-implementation of Financial Autonomy.
“This present 7th Assembly is workers friendly, I know they would not do anything to harm the NLC.
“In that case, I want to assure NLC and TUC in Akwa Ibom State that I have received your letter and I will advise him on what to do.
“And at the end, the speaker will take it to the Governor because he has the ears and they will resolve it amicably, for the interest of the workers in the state.
“On behalf of the Speaker, I want to thank the NLC and TUC, and I want to believe that before resorting to strike all peaceful negotiation will be handled.
“And I believe before resorting to strike this matter would be resolved amicably”.