The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected a statement credited to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on plans by the Federal Government to cut salaries of public servants, warning that that such a statement could further worsen the nation’s current socio-economic crisis.
The President of the NLC, Mallam Ayuba Wabba, while reacting to the statement expressed serious shock on the proposed plan and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Minister of Finance to order before she sets Nigeria on fire with her careless statements.
He stated: “It is almost unthinkable that government would be contemplating to unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time.
“It was with huge shock that we read the statement credited to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who said that the Federal Government was working to reduce the high cost of governance by cutting down on the salaries of Nigerian workers.
“The Minister was reported to have said this in Abuja at a policy dialogue on corruption and cost of governance in Nigeria organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.
“The Minister was also reported to have directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to immediately review the salaries of civil servants and the number of federal agencies in the country.
“It is almost unthinkable that government would be contemplating to unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time. The question to ask is ‘which salary is the government planning to slash?”
“It certainly cannot be the meagre national minimum wage of N30,000 which right now cannot even buy a bag of rice. The proposed slash in salaries is certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries that some callous state governors are still dragging their feet to pay!
“It is public knowledge that the multiple devaluations of the Naira in a very short time and the prevailing high inflation rate in Nigeria has knocked out the salaries earned by Nigerian workers across the board.
“Nigerian workers are only surviving by hair’s breadth. Indeed, Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs. It is, therefore, extremely horrendous for a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pronounce a salary slash for Nigerian workers at this time.
“This call for salary slash by Mrs Zainab Ahmed is tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish for Nigerian workers. It is most uncharitable, most insensitive, most dehumanizing and most barbaric. Nigerian workers demand an immediate retraction and apology by the Minister of Finance.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Minister of Finance to order now before she sets Nigeria on fire with her careless statements. If there is any salary that needs serious slashing, it is the humungous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political office holders in Nigeria who do very little but collect so much!
“Workers generate surplus value and revenue for the government. We do not constitute any unnecessary cost or burden to governance! It is also important to make the point that salaries are products of contracts governed by laws. They cannot be unilaterally adjusted ”, the labour leader maintained.
Wabba pointed out that the move by the Federal Government was not only at great odds with global best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also represented a violation of relevant ILO Conventions and Declarations on Wages and Decent Work.
“We urge Government as a social partner to quickly respond to the demands by Labour for an upward review of salaries of all Nigerian workers. Nigerian workers have shown sufficient understanding with the government through the tough patches of the pandemic.
“Now, Nigerian workers demand reciprocity of our understanding. Nigerian workers demand an increase in their remunerations and allowances. Enough is enough!”, the NLC President added.