May Day: Labour Unions Blast President Buhari for pauperizing workers

May Day: Labour Unions Blast President Buhari for pauperizing workers

…Speaking to the press ahead of May Day commemoration, NLC and TUC also flayed governors for not paying adequate attention to the welfare of workers

President Muhammadu Buhari marks his last May Day in office today, labour unions have scored the regime and state governors low, saying they pauperised workers and inflicted hardship on Nigerians.

They lamented the galloping inflation in the country which they said had eroded the 40 per cent pay rise recently approved by the Federal Government with effect from January.

Last week, the government paid the 40 per cent increase in allowance to various categories of federal workers but labour leaders said the pay rise had been lost to inflation.

The Consumer Price Index reported by the National Bureau of Statistics in March 2023 indicated that Nigeria’s inflation rate accelerated to a new 17-year high of 22.04 per cent.

According to the World Bank, Nigeria has one of the highest inflation rates globally and the seventh highest in sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.

When Buhari took over in 2015, petrol was sold at N87 per litre but it is presently dispensed for N196 despite the payment of subsidies by his regime.

Cooking gas prices also shot to N822.16/kg from N256/kg in eight years while electricity tariffs were hiked to N68 per kilowatt per hour from N27.20/kWh despite power outages.

Though the regime increased the minimum wage to N30,000 from N18,000, the workers submitted that food inflation which skyrocketed from 9.78 per cent to 22.72 per inflation had eroded the increase.

Speaking to the press on Sunday ahead of the May Day commemoration, the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) and the Trade Union Congress(TUC) also flayed governors for not paying adequate attention to the welfare of workers in their states.

The National Treasurer of NLC, Hakeem Ambali, submitted that the outgoing regime had inflicted heavy hardship and suffering on the Nigerian workers.

He said that the workers have suffered job losses, insecurity, economic hardship and other calamities under Buhari.

Ambali, who is also the President of the National Union of Local Government Employees, said further: “Under Buhari’s administration just like every other successive administration, we have witnessed so many losses of jobs. Some governors laid off so many workers in the North, East and West. There has been a loss of lives as a result of banditry and kidnapping, especially in the South-East, South-West and in the whole North.

“As for today from my union, the National Union of Local Government Employees, we reside and work within the remote part of the country; any attack on government installations and infrastructure affect our people. Most of them were kidnapped in Kaduna.

“Also, one will realise that the road network is so poor. The erratic power supply has also reduced chances of Nigerians getting their daily living.’’

The labour leader further observed the lack of social safety net in the country even as he scored the Buhari regime low in terms of fidelity to labour laws, citing the abuse of labour laws and practices by the government.

He noted, “Looking at COVID-19 that ravaged the country, the government failed to have a social security scheme that is backed up by social polity and social legislation to care for the retirees, aged and the vulnerable.

“For us in the labour movement, we have not fared well at all. There has been abuse of labour laws and practices. No thanks to the way some of the appointees handled labour matters.

‘’So many states failed to pay the minimum wage. Some did not pay the contributory pension to the PFAs and that has created a lot of hardships for retirees in Nigeria. Rest is no longer sweet because of the backlog of money that was owed, retirees.’’

The NLC treasurer however expressed optimism that the incoming government would perform better, stressing the imperative of a paradigm shift in anti-people policy.

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