Ahead of the planned indefinite industrial action by the Organised Labour billed to commence Tuesday, November 6, 2018, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has said what Nigerian workers were demanding from the Federal Government is even inadequate.
The party’s National Secretary, Alhaji Shehu Gabam who stated this in an interview with the in-house media team of the party led by the National Publicity Secretary, Alh Alfa Mohammed on Monday at the SDP National Secretariat in Maitama, Abuja. He explained that considering the high productivity rate of the Nigerian workers, enormous resources available in the country and given the leakages and wastes, Nigerian workers deserve more if the government at all levels care.
The organised labour had threatened to embark on an indefinite industrial action from Nov. 6 in spite of a court order restraining the labour.
The labour is demanding implementation of N30, 000 as minimum wage. while the Federal Government offered to pay workers N24,000, the states agreed to pay N22,500.
Gabam said the state governments across the country and the Federal Government have no justification, whatsoever, not to reward the Nigerian workers handsomely for their service and huge sacrifice.
He said further that government could avert Tuesday’s strike action which he described as avoidable, by simply dancing to the demand of the workers.
“It is an avoidable exercise, the government can avoid it because the workers are not asking for too much. If you look at the leakages and wastages of our resources, you will believe that the workers even earn more. They can mop up those resources and pay our civil servants adequately and elicit more productivity.
“There’s no justification to say that government cannot pay the workers 30,000 minimum wage per month, given the way and the manner the funds are being taken out of the country or wasted. It is something that nobody can defend,” Gabam said.
While challenging the governments to live up to the responsibility of ensuring the welfare of citizens, he remarked that the 30,000 being demanded by the workers was even too meagre compared to the level of productivity of Nigerian workers and the income that accrues to the country.
“In fact, they are being underpaid even if it is 30,000. The government should live up the expectation. They have taken an oath of service to improve the living standard of their people in various states so they can afford more than 30,000. I don’t think it is an excuse that they can’t afford N30,000,” the National Secretary said.
Lamenting that strike actions are often detrimental to the masses, the SDP National Secretary urged the state governors and the Federal Government to address the issue headlong to avoid its far-reaching consequences.
“Nigerians have been paying through their noses when such strike takes place. The state governors and the presidency need to seat up and deal with this issue decisively. The level of poverty is so high. The cost of living is very high so it is really an inhuman act to a certain extent that somebody will work for a whole month and you can’t afford to pay him 30, 000 here in Nigeria where social service is almost nil.
“After leaving their homes in the morning and going through the hazards associated with their respective works, yet you cannot pay them 30,000 while the prices of food keep skyrocketing.”
He further challenged the government to justify the sincerity of its fight against corruption as he maintained that without adequate wage government will only be paying lip service to its anti-corruption war.
“How would you stop corruption with this kind of mentality? If you do not provide something that will sustain the family for the civil servant to keep family going by paying school fees, medical bills among others, where will he get the money from and you are asking people not to be corrupt, not to take money outside. This is practically impossible.
“The government must make the move to create a level of contentment within the perimeters of the service so that people will have that sense of commitment, sense of patriotism that I’m working for my country and my country is taking care of me. There is absence of that right now so how can you curb corruption with this kind of mentality of shortchanging citizens from their workforce, what legitimately they deserve.? You are not giving them and you are telling them not to go on strike. It has not happened like that even under authoritarian administration.”
“We are a very civil society operating within a global community and we must behave and operate within the perimeter of civility and protect our own citizens. We must live up to the expectation and we must do things according to global best practices,” he said.