Hounorable Minister for Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, representing President Muhammadu Buhari; flanked by NLC and TUC presidents, Comrades Ayuba Wabba and Bobboi Kaigama; with Speaker of the House of Rep Yakubu Dogara at the Eagle Square.
Nigerian workers joined their counterparts around the world to celebrate the international workers day on May 1, 2017. The event was greeted with mixed reactions as workers gathered to hold rally around the country to commemorate the only public holiday assigned to them.
In Abuja the Federal Capital Territory, the Eagle Square hosted hundreds of workers who had come with great expectations with regards to their welfare and working conditions. Amongst the invited guests and dignitaries present were the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, former governor of Edo State and former President of NLC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole, Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita amongst top government officials.
In his May Day message to workers, President Muhammadu Buhari assured Nigerian workers of speedy passage of the new National Minimum Wage. He gave the assurance to workers through the Labour Minister, Ngige. According to him, “…Government will give expeditious consideration to the proposal contained in the Technical Committee’s Report which was submitted to it on April 6, 2017. Government will take necessary steps to implement the final recommendation of the Main Government/Labour Committee as it relates to the setting up of the new National Minimum Wage Committee and the needed palliatives”
Nigerian workers at Eagle Square on 2017 May Day rally in Abuja
The President added that “this is in order to reduce the discomfort currently being experienced by the Nigerian working class”, noting further that he was aware of the economic recession in the country which has huge implication for the seamless conduct of industrial relations arising from the fact that the economic recession by its nature was characterised by a substantial risk of the “vicious circles of low- productivity”, mass retrenchment of workers and closure of workplaces due to high cost of doing business, unregulated subcontracting and outsourcing with its consequences on welfare of workers among others.
Speaking with the media, Senator Ngige enjoined workers to be patient with the minimum wage demand, assuring them that the minimum Wage Negotiating Committee will start functioning soon. He also assured workers that the backlog of promotion arrears and repatriation allowances, relocation allowances and other allowances that are due to them as emolument will be paid soon.
In his May Day message, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba expressed concerns over the current economic realities bedeviling the country and its effect on the populace.
He noted that “the last twelve months since our last May Day, we have since run into full recession that has wreaked untold havoc on the nation’s economy and brought indescribable pain on the Nigerian citizenry, especially, Nigerian workers and the poor masses of our people. The on-going recession has affected and provoked all manners of reaction and responses from various sectors of the economy including organised labour” He added that government must be held responsible for the suffering of Nigeria’s under-paid workers, even as inflation bites harder.
As regards the choice of this year’s theme, Comrade Waba said that “we have as theme for this year’s May Day, Labour Relations in Economic Recession: An Appraisal. We were propelled to choosing this theme to enable us have a moment of reflection on how we, members of organised labour whose main reason for existence is the defence of the rights, privileges and aspirations of the working class and pensioners, have fared in defending these rights, of our class from being eroded.
The president of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama who also delivered his May Day Speech at the rally stated the importance of the May Day to Nigerians today.
NLC President, Comr. Ayuba Wabba delivering his 2017 May Day speech in Abuja
TUC President, Comr. Bobboi Kaigama delivering his 2017 May Day speech in Abuja
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