The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it has proposed a wage award to the Federal Government to cushion the effects of petrol subsidy removal on workers and Nigerians.
Mr Joe Ajaero, NLC President said this on Wednesday at the ongoing 111th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ajaero said that the proposal was part of the agreement reached with the government during the negotiation on the removal of fuel subsidy.
According to him, the agreement we had with them is not minimum wage. The agreement we had with them is wage award and it must be understood clearly.
“We have proposed to them a wage award, which could be implemented immediately without waiting for the statutory period for the minimum wage law or for it to expire.
“What we are going to do is to look at the rate at which this wage award will be, whether it will be N100,000 or N20,000.
This will not stop the review of minimum wage which will be due by early next year. It is good we draw this demarcation.
“We will ensure to review minimum wage statutorily because they have taken action by removing subsidy without providing anything. That is why they are talking about minimum wage’’, he said.
According to him, early this year, the federal government awarded some of their workers a kind of wage award of about 40 per cent that has nothing to do with minimum wage to cushion the effects of COVID-19 and others.
“Now that we are having the effect of this subsidy removal, we will look at an award that will cushion it.
“In this country even in the 70s we had the Udoji award and others. So, that is the purpose, whatever we are going to come up with at our next meeting with government, but not minimum wage’’, he said.
He disclosed that some state governors were yet to abide with the National Minimum Wage Act as they have not been able to pay the N30,000 minimum wage.
Speaking on the forthcoming meeting between labour and the government, Ajaero said that the meeting of June 19 is to give life to the agreement earlier signed with the government on fuel subsidy removal.
He said that it would also include having some technical committee to give life to the implementation of that agreement.
“We did not even want to go into the politics of subsidy because we knew that as far as NLC is concerned, we do not know the people that are receiving the subsidy.
“We do not know people importing and exporting. So, it is exclusive to them.
“But we have asked them to investigate the subsidy regime because it is not enough to say subsidy it is gone and we cover it up. Let us know those involved, let us know what they did or what they are doing.
Ajaero said the meeting also discussed the issue of modular refineries just like in some stateswhich has brought diesel prices down.
“There are areas in Alkwa Ibom today where diesel sells about N300 or N400 from modular refinery there. While we buy diesel in Lagos and Abuja for N800, they buy at between N300 and N400.
“So, if you have all these modular refineries, it will bring down the cost.
“And we have all insisted that the Warri and the Port Harcourt refineries that they have awarded contracts must be concluded as soon as possible.
“So if you have these options, things will go well but if you allow one individual to supply PMS, it is going to be difficult.
“One of the commonest ways for you to create high price is to create a artificial scarcity or monopoly.
“Everybody will be pursuing one product and the price of that product will go up. If there is no availability, you cannot have affordability and accessibility. I must tell you that the aspect of implementation is a battle that we must all engage”, he said.