By Abuchi Onwumelu
Members of organized labour in Anambra State numbering over 500 last Wednesday protested against what they described as obnoxious and anti-workers’ Bill seeking to remove Minimum Wage from the Exclusive List to Concurrent list of the constitution.
Addressing the protesters, the Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Anambra State, Comrade Jerry Nnubia, flanked by other labour leaders in the state, including the State chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Ifeanyi Okechukwu, said the protest was organized to kick against the planned removal of the minimum wage from the exclusive list to the concurrent list.
Nnubia said it was practically impossible to allow the states to legislate on the Minimum Wage, saying it was the prerogative of the federal government of Nigeria and the National Assembly.
The workers who protested in Awka, the Anambra State capital, advised the Anambra State House of Assembly not to be a part of the Bill that would return Nigerian workers into slavery.
The protesting workers who began the protest at the NLC Secretariat, took their protest to the popular Aroma Junction and from there to the Anambra State Secretariat and ended at the State House of Assembly.
The NLC boss, warned the Anambra State Assembly not to be part of what he said would destroy the Nigerian economy and further throw Nigerians into the unemployment market, saying some individuals were toying with the welfare of the average Nigerian worker.
His words, ‘Removing the Minimum Wage from the exclusive list to concurrent list means it is no more the Federal Government that has the final say on the issue, but both the state and the FG can adjudicate on it.
‘It means the governors can decide on the amount to be paid as Minimum Wage and this will further enslave the workers,’ Nnubia said.
He called on the Anambra State House of Assembly not to be part of the Bill and not to consider its passage, describing it as anti-workers Bill.
TUC Chairman, Comrade Ifeanyi Okechukwu said that the union would do what was necessary to ensure that the Bill did not see the light of day.
He added that the governors earned nothing less than N500 million as security vote but were telling Nigerian workers that N30, 000 Minimum Wage was too much.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Uche Okafor, commended the union for the peaceful protest.
Okafor said the bill before its passage must go through the 36 states houses of assembly and assured the unions that the state assembly would deliberate on the Bill and ensure it would not be against those they represented.