By Victor Sorokwu
All seemed set for a full blown workers strike as the joint labour unions advised Nigerians to stockpile foodstuffs to last them for a long time ahead of November 6 nationwide strike to compel government to introduce a new minimum wage of N30,000.
In Asaba, the organised labour on Tuesday held a mass sensitisation protest as prelude to the planned industrial action.
The group, comprising of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), United Labour Congress (ULC), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and PSJNC, urged the federal government to stop playing pranks with the welfare of workers in the country.
The NLC chairman in Delta state, Comrade Jonathan Jemiriyigbe, faulted the minister of Labour and Employment, Chief Chris Ngige, for misrepresentation of the resolution of the tripartite committee on minimum wage.
He urged Nigerians to stock their homes with foodstuffs ahead of nationwide strike.
The protesters, who displayed placards of various inscriptions, like “No pay, no work”, “We will not go back on N30,000”, “Say no no to modern day slavery”, “N30,000 or nothing”, “Minimum wage is our right” etc; marched from Labour House in Asaba to Government House along Okpanam/Illah road through the popular flyover bridge in Asaba, threatening to shut down banks, BEDC office, the airports and other economic utilities.
Jemiriyigbe lamented that federal government had paid lip service to laws on workers’ welfare, stressing that any form of modern day oppression will be resisted as from November 6.
“The N30,000 minimum wage will afford Nigeria workers the greater opportunity of purchasing power. So, this rally is to create awareness and correct the way and manner the representatives of the Federal Government, especially the Minister of Labour, had erroneously misled the general public on the outcome of the tripartite meeting, that state Governors cannot pay”, he stated.
Addressing the protesters, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who was represented by the Chief of Staff, Hon. Tam Brisibe said Delta state would comply with the payment if implemented.
Mr Brisibe said, “Delta state cannot be found wanting in terms of workers’ welfare. The state will pay whatever that is agreed as minimum wage. If it is N1 million, we will pay; if it is one kobo, we will also pay. Out of the 36 states in Nigeria, Delta will not be found wanting on the issue of payment.”