The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said on Tuesday that the voluntary salary cut undertaken by President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, would not in any way improve the economy of the country.
The NLC Secretary-General, Peter Eson-Ozo, made this assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
“For some individuals to voluntarily decide to cut their salaries, I think it is cosmetic and I believe we should be more systematic than that”. “I think, to begin with, the law, the constitution, prescribes how public office salaries are fixed; if any public officer chooses to reduce his salary, he can donate it to charity or donate it to whomever”.
Mr. Eson-Ozo noted that the labour movement had for sometime been clamouring for a reduction in the cost of governance, adding that this should not be by cutting salaries. He said the bulk of what was driving governance cost was outside the prescribed salary.
“Any person or the president or any other public officer who then arbitrarily gets up and cuts salary when the law does not put the fixing of that salary in his power, creates a legal problem.
“I think that we need to address things in a systematic way”.
Mr. Eson-Ozo said it was imperative for the government to focus deeper on ways to reign in the cost of governance rather than the cosmetic announcement of slash in salaries by some public officers.
According to him, the process of fixing salary is an institutionalised one and not up to any individual to do.
“Because if you can cut salary, does it mean you can just wake tomorrow and increase salary?.
“These are issues we need to take on board in order for us to have a robust type of approach to the system”, Mr. Eson-Ozo said.
On the issue of the minimum wage, the NLC scribe urged the Federal Government to begin preparation for the review of the salaries of Nigerian workers.
He stressed the need to begin the review process by setting up a tripartite committee to kick-start.
“Every five years, the minimum wage is supposed to be reviewed and the current wage will be due for replacement by next year.
“It is important for the Federal Government to start the process; preparation should have started before now. “That is, the process of the preparation in terms of gathering information and analysing them, in order to have the law reviewed for at least another five years”.
Mr. Eson-Ozo said that the labour movement had over time reminded government of the provision of the law which stipulates a review of the minimum wage every five years. He added that it was important to constitute the tripartite committee, to avoid other issues arising within the limited time.
The NLC Secretary-General also warned government against any plan to slash workers salaries, saying that the economic situation in the country was not favourable.