The Secretary General of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), Comrade Issa Aremu, has decried the non-payment of workers’ salaries by 22 state governments in the country, saying the development is unacceptable.
In a statement he issued in Kaduna on Thursday, Aremu, who is also the vice president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, described the development as a wage theft, wage robbery and economic crime.
The NLC vice president noted that the same governors, who had failed to pay workers their salaries for more than three months, were able to come up with funds to pay their delegates during the just concluded party primary elections across the states.
He, therefore, urged governors of the affected states to devise the same means they used to source for funds to pay delegates, to settle the workers’ salaries without further delay.
He said: “We see that delay in payment of salaries as wage theft, wage robbery. It is actually an economic crime because Nigeria Labour law says thou shall pay the worker as and when due. In fact by 22nd of every month you must have paid the workers fully.
“We never heard of any delegate being owed a single penny during the primary elections, but they cannot get money to pay the workers. In fact, some of the delegates even bought new cars and properties after the primaries because the money they got in just few days is much more than what workers earn in many months”.
Comrade Aremu further noted that it was time for the Federal Government to review upward the national minimum wage in order to reflect with emerging economic challenges and also warned against any attempt by government to further impoverish the Nigerian workers with reduction in pay or loss of jobs on account of the recently announced austerity measure by the Federal government.
He also pointed out that the $65 per barrel of crude oil as captured in the 2015 budget confirmed that Nigeria is an oil dependent economy contrary to the claim by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala that the budget is projected on a non-oil revenue basis.
Instead, the labour leader believed that sustainable budgets were the ones based on revenue arising from real sector of the economy such as domestic manufacturing and exportation of finished goods.
Mr Aremu said that the National Assembly, while debating the budget proposal, should put policies that will grow the real sectors of the economy and also ensure that the Central Bank of Nigeria lowers the interest rate and stop the free fall of the Naira which will undermine purchasing power of working class Nigerians.
He also asked the National Assembly to make sure the budget captured practical measures on reducing cost of governance, which must begin with drastic reduction of pay and allowances of the Executive and Legislature.