From Lagos to Sokoto, from Bayelsa to insurgency-ravaged Maiduguri and Damaturu, workers may lament their deteriorating conditions today as they mark the 2019 edition of May Day. The celebration of the 2019 edition of Workers Day popularly called May Day in Nigeria has always been used by the labour movement to highlight the issues that are threatening the industrial peace of the country. The most germane issue this year is no doubt the implementation of the new N30,000 minimum wage bill signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The struggle for the implementation of the minimum wage notwithstanding, the two labour centres in the country – Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) – are expected to catalogue the woes of the Nigerian working class in the last one year and score government based on the misery index or otherwise of their members.
Apart from the minimum wage, the unwillingness of some oil companies to respect collective agreements with unions, unpreparedness of oil firms to allow unionisation will feature prominently in labour’s lamentation today.Labour would, as expected, touch on the casualisation of workers in the banks, oil industry and in government agencies such as the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). Though both NLC and TUC have not been vocal against the casualisation of Nigerian workers, NUPENG and PENGASSAN have been at the forefront of the struggle. Both unions have continued to insist that casualisation is a second slavery of Nigerians in their land centuries after slave trade officially ended.
Also, NLC will comment on the non-inauguration of Frank Kokori as the board chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF). It is not unexpected that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige might want to stay away from the annual ritual. But he may not have his way since he is likely to represent President Buhari before the workers. If Ngige attends the rally at the majestic Eagles Square today, he can be sure to receive cold shoulder from labour leaders especially after labelling them ‘thugs’ who prevented the inauguration of a new board. Read more