The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed concern over President Bola Tinubu’s promises to dispense wage awards to workers following the petrol subsidy removal, describing the Nigerian leader’s national broadcast as a sign of hypocrisy.
NLC president Joe Ajaero said this in a statement while reacting to Mr Tinubu’s national speech on Tuesday in Abuja.
The statement was titled ‘President Bola Ahmed Tinubu speech, not the silver bullet that Nigerians expected’.
Mr Ajaero said the president’s statement on working with labour unions to review the national minimum wage was out of sync with what had played out since the removal of the subsidy.
“In all the meetings scheduled by the government, organised labour has been forced to negotiate with empty chairs on the federal government’s side as the federal government has not matched its public promises with a firm commitment to negotiate in good faith with labour,” the NLC leader pointed out. “As a matter of fact, the sub-committee on wage award has not been inaugurated and has not met.”
Mr Ajaero added, “Furthermore, organised labour is disturbed that while President Tinubu in his speech lavishly praised the private sector for quickly dispensing wage awards to their employees, the federal government has failed to do the same for public workers in its employment.”
He accused the president of being hypocritical.
“This is a clear case of failing woefully to live up to the standards it has set for others to meet,” stated Mr Ajaero.
The NLC chief said it was open knowledge that the review of the national minimum wage was a matter of the law expected to happen in 2024.
“How would Nigerian workers cope with the current reality of hyperinflation and suffering unleashed by the hasty removal of the so-called petrol subsidy till 2024, when the national minimum wage would be reviewed? This is incredible,” said Mr Ajaero.
According to the unionist, the claims of interventions by Mr Tinubu’s government through palliatives, loans and conditional grants to poor Nigerians, big manufacturing concerns and small businesses and provision of CNG buses are just promises.
He said Nigerians are used to such promises, which have never produced any verifiable and meaningful changes in their lives. Mr Ajaero noted that the president’s entire speech was completely silent on repairing the nation’s refineries.
The NLC boss called on Mr Tinubu to unmask those behind the looting of Nigeria’s commonwealth under the guise of petrol subsidy.
“What Nigerians expected from Mr President is a firm commitment to bring these economic saboteurs to justice and recover what they have stolen,” he said.
Mr Ajaero assured Nigerians that NLC remained committed to matching discussions with the government with the current realities of their sufferings.
“We remain committed to continue with our struggle,” he said.