EARLIER in the week, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) called off its industrial action to press for workers’ demand for a new minimum wage.
NLC had threatened to commence strike should the federal government fail to accede to its N30,000 minimum wage demand.
THOUGH the federal government had offered to pay N24,000, with some state governments offering less, it later shifted grounds and acceded to the demands of the workers.
ACCORDING to reports, the tripartite negotiating committee has concluded its assignment, agreements reached, and all relevant documents signed.
THE report has since been sent to the president for his assent.
NEEDLESS to say, the organised labour and the federal government have been at loggerheads over the minimum wage for some time. While organised labour considers the current N18,000 minimum wage too paltry, the federal government argues that labour’s proposals are too exorbitant, given the present situation in the country.
FOR some others, a new minimum wage would generate so much heat to ignite inflation and industrial crisis.
IN other words, everybody will be placed on the alert over the issue, with many non-government officials wanting to benefit from the salary increase.
THE lesson from the encounter is that dialogue is the key to any dispute involving workers and the federal government.
STRIKE actions would only polarise the polity and increase the problems faced by workers and the government.
IN addition, it shows that if the NLC and federal government reach a common understanding they will be able to douse tensions over similar issues in the near future.
HAVING said this, we commend the federal government and NLC for averting a possibly expensive strike.
BUT we are quick to note that some state governments might find it difficult to meet the new minimum wage, considering the fact that some of them offered less than the N24,000 the federal government had been proposing.
THIS brings to the fore the need to review the allocation formula of the money from the Federal Account.
AS it is well known, the sharing formula favours the federal government and leaves the states in desperate circumstances.
IF the revenue formula is reviewed, states will be able to meet commitments to their workers, while the widespread pilfering that takes place on the federal level will be curbed.
A review of the formula will mean states will not renege from implementing the new minimum wage in the future .
SUCH a situation will paralyse activities in the states, and lead to a return of the condition the averted strike tried to avoid.
MORE importantly, there is an existing law for the federal government to review workers’ salaries every five years.
LABOUR should have taken the government to court to comply with the law, to prevent the tension that the averted strike generated.
IN addition, the panic buying caused by the warning strike, as well as the tension in the land, would have been needless, if the NLC and the government had managed their industrial relations in a more amicable and harmonious manner.
ON the part of the government, it should not have waited for labour to call a workers’ strike before acceding to their request.
IT is a common knowledge that workers have been pauperized due to the declining value of their earnings over the years.
THE government erred by putting the entire nation on alert before it was prodded to review workers’ salary.
Both parties should put their houses in order to prevent the reoccurrence of the confusion that characterized their recent encounter.