EMPLOYEES of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday, December 30 received their December 2021 salaries, a week after the disappointment of not getting paid before Christmas.
National Record confirmed that the NLC commenced the implementation of the N30 thousand minimum wage with the salary payment in line with the December 17, 2021 directive by the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.
Also confirmed to have been paid on Friday, December 31, 2021 to all categories of staff of Congress, are 6 months out of the 42 months’ arrears of the new minimum wage which the staff have been agitating for since April 18, 2018 when President Buhari signed the minimum wage bill into law.
National Record had reported on Boxing Day how NLC staff railed against the President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, for allegedly stalling the payment of December salaries before Christmas, a situation they lamented had never happened before in the history of Nigeria’s foremost labour centre.
The workers also called Comrade Wabba a hypocrite for criticising employers who failed to pay their staff December salaries before Christmas while he had also not paid them.
They accused Wabba of tyranny in the running of the affairs of Congress and deliberately truncating the immediate implementation of the N30 thousand minimum wage as had been the tradition in the NLC soon after the enactment of every national minimum wage law.
According to them, even after the Establishment Committee of the NLC had earlier this year recommended implementation of the new wage, Comrade Wabba sat on it by refusing to tender the recommendation before the relevant organs of Congress for ratification until the December 17, 2021 NEC, when he chose to do so. He was said to have insisted that the Congress do not have the resources to finance the new wage.
Agitation Over Arrears May linger
National Record on Friday gathered from credible insiders in the NLC that confrontation with Comrade Wabba over the new minimum wage may not be over just yet as he is said to have insisted that he will not pay the full 42 months backlog of arrears starting from the signing into law on May 18, 2018 to November 2021, now that implementation has commenced.
According to multiple sources who confirmed receiving bank alerts of the payment of the minimum wage arrears calculated to be for six months, the NLC President had before now asserted that he was only going to pay arrears of eleven months.
One of the sources said the president’s position was even after much persuasion from some members of the national leadership in the National Administrative Council (NAC), as he was said to have insisted on not paying any arrears.
Both senior and junior employees of NLC, National Record gathered, are united in the conviction that they should not succumb to the NLC President’s bullying tactics by paying them only eleven out of 42 months’ arrears.
“In the history of NLC and minimum wage struggle, the NLC has never lagged behind in the implementation of any wage. This is the first time we are experiencing this in the Congress. That the Congress is debating whether to pay arrears of a minimum wage to its own workers who is not only shameful, it is an aberration.
“Payment of any national minimum wage from when the law came into effect has always been unconditional in the NLC without any staff having to agitate. But here we are, under a leader who always prides himself as the president of ITUC Global.”
When contacted, the chairperson of NLC’s staff union, which is a unit of the Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU), Comrade James Eustace, while confirming the payment of the December salaries and arrears of the minimum wage, however said he was not yet sure how many months of arrears have been paid until work resumes in January and the staff are briefed.
Asked if the president had before now insisted on paying arrears for only eleven months instead of 42, Comrade Eustace said that was merely a speculation.
“I don’t know the number of months that has been paid for arrears yet; it is until one receives clear information that we will know. I have also received alert for arrears but I don’t know for how many months, so I can’t be precise about that now. The fundamental thing is that the minimum wage has been implemented. It is until we resume that we can find out the details of what is paid,” Comrade Eustace said.
When asked on the alleged insistence by the NLC President to pay arrears for only eleven months, Eustace said: “Some of what you will hear are sometimes speculations; some of these our people are very speculative; so until we resume work. Like I said, I got alert; I can’t give you a definitive answer as to how many months that were paid or not paid.”