Unpaid Dec. Salaries: NLC Condemns Employers For Turning Joy of Xmas to ‘a Jam of Pain’

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THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned employers of labour who failed to pay their employees December salaries thereby turning the joy of Christmas for those workers and their families to ‘a jam of pain.’

Comrade Wabba

The foremost Nigerian labour centre also urged all employers of labour, both in the public and private sectors, “to fully implement the national minimum wage, minimum pension and ensure timeous payment of salaries.”

“The spirit of Christmas is the celebration of love, care and empathy. We urge all employers of labour, public and private to fully implement the national minimum wage, minimum pension and ensure timeous payment of salaries. We feel the pains of Nigerian workers and families likely to spend this Christmas without salaries. We implore employers who turn the joy of Christmas to a jam of pain to cease and desist.

“This is also the season to remember the poor, the destitute, the orphans and widows in their suffering and be a source of hope to them. We urge that care and caution should guide our conduct especially in relation to personal and public health given the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is better to be safe than to be sorry!” Comrade Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, stated in a press release he signed entitled: “Hope Beyond Despair – 2021 Christmas Greetings from the Nigeria Labour Congress.”

Comrade Wabba said the outgoing year has been full of challenges which “cast a pall of despair on our nation,” a situation he noted has forced Nigerian workers and people to endure excruciating socio-economic downturns marked “by hyper-inflation, widespread hardship, governance reversals, insecurity and persisting prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic particularly with the advent and high infection of the Omicron variant.”

Wabba commended Nigerian workers and the masses for keeping hope alive and for relentlessly making the required sacrifices for national productivity, growth and development, assuring that their hard work, dedication, and commitment will never be in vain.

While highlighting the existential realities posed by increases in the prices of essential and basic utilities, commodities and services including staple food items, cooking gas, cement and other building materials, Comrade Wabba while commending “government for ensuring stable supply of petrol and a few other refined petroleum products, also expressed concern over the proposed petrol price increase which he said does not resonate with the spirit of Christmas.

“Just as government was able to fix the perennial scarcity of refined petroleum products especially petrol during festive seasons such as Christmas, we are also hopeful that Nigeria’s political leadership would be able to find a lasting panacea to the cycle of increases in the prices of refined petroleum products. With a stable price of refined petroleum products, the prices of other commodities will be stable,” Wabba said.

Noting insecurity as a major headache Nigerians faced in 2021, Comrade Wabba drew attention to a “looming hunger epidemic in 2022” because of the fact that “many farmers were unable to plant and those who planted are required to pay harvest’ security fees to non-state actors who have now carved out autonomous power bases in different parts of Nigeria.”

Asking the federal government to act rather than talk, the NLC President called for solutions to the many challenges facing the country.

“Enough of talk! Nigerian workers and people want real solutions to the shame of near one hundred percent fuel importation and attendant perennial price hike for the largest oil producer in Africa. Nigerians want our domestic refineries to be fixed and new ones built. This will shift the narrative from petroleum products importation to domestic petroleum refining for local consumption, export for foreign exchange and job creation.

“Nigerians everywhere want to sleep with both eyes closed. We implore government at all levels to take seriously the provisions of Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution which mandates that the security of lives and property must be the prime duty of government.

“Nigerians do not consider the persistent scourge of kidnap, rural banditry and terrorism as worthy hampers. We demand that government should use both kinetic and non-kinetic methods to make insecurity in Nigeria history.

“Nigerians would prefer to have as Christmas presents increased commitment by government at all levels to social development especially in terms of public education, public healthcare, social housing and expanded social protection cover. Our expectation as a national labour center is that by next Christmas, the hopes for affordable and quality education, healthcare and welfare to the poorest of the poor in our midst would no longer reside in the domain of hope but would be the existential reality of our people.

“This is the thrust of the Charter of Demands developed by Nigerian working people and our allies as the tool for political engagement as we approach the 2023 election cycle,” Wabba stated.

Below is the full statement:

PRESS RELEASE
HOPE BEYOND DESPAIR
– 2021 Christmas Greetings from the Nigeria Labour Congress

We wish to extend very happy and hearty Christmas greetings to all Nigerian workers, pensioners and people. The warm wishes of the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress resonate with the message of the first noel by the angels – “Joy to the world and peace on earth.”

Christmas is always a refreshing vista of hope – the kind of hope that beats despair. There is nothing as hopeful as the fact that the Saviour is born. There is nothing as lifting as the truth that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Today, we remember that Jesus the Saviour though born in a manger rose above His humble background to achieve His divine destiny which is to become the source of eternal salvation to all those who believe in His name. This is the hope that Christmas rekindles.

It has indeed been a year of many challenges that have cast a pall of despair on our nation. Nigerian workers and people were forced to endure a year inundated with socio-economic downturns especially as marked by hyper-inflation, widespread hardship, governance reversals, insecurity and persisting prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic particularly with the advent and high infection of the Omicron variant.

We commend Nigerian workers and the masses of our people for keeping hope alive and for relentlessly making the required sacrifices for national productivity, growth and development. We can assure you that your hard work, dedication, and commitment will never be in vain.

2021 would be remembered as the year that Nigerians were confronted with both speculation and the reality of increases in the prices of essential and basic utilities, commodities and services including staple food items, cooking gas, cement and other building materials. While we commend government for ensuring stable supply of petrol and a few other refined petroleum products, we are concerned that the proposed petrol price increase does not resonate with the spirit of Christmas.

Just as government was able to fix the perennial scarcity of refined petroleum products especially petrol during festive seasons such as Christmas, we are also hopeful that Nigeria’s political leadership would be able to find a lasting panacea to the cycle of increases in the prices of refined petroleum products. With a stable price of refined petroleum products, the prices of other commodities will be stable.

Insecurity was also one major headache for Nigerians in 2021. The spate of unrests, banditry, terrorism and kidnap-for-ransom across the length and breadth of Nigeria is a source of sleepless nights for many Nigerians. There are genuine concerns of a looming hunger epidemic in 2022 as many farmers were unable to plant and those who planted are required to pay ‘harvest’ security fees to non-state actors who have now carved out autonomous power bases in different parts of Nigeria.

Christmas is about solutions. We call on government to find solutions to the myriads of challenges facing the country. Enough of talk! Nigerian workers and people want real solutions to the shame of near one hundred percent fuel importation and attendant perennial price hike for the largest oil producer in Africa. Nigerians want our domestic refineries to be fixed and new ones built. This will shift the narrative from petroleum products importation to domestic petroleum refining for local consumption, export for foreign exchange and job creation.

Nigerians everywhere want to sleep with both eyes closed. We implore government at all levels to take seriously the provisions of Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution which mandates that the security of lives and property must be the prime duty of government. Nigerians do not consider the persistent scourge of kidnap, rural banditry and terrorism as worthy hampers. We demand that government should use both kinetic and non-kinetic methods to make insecurity in Nigeria history. Nigerians would prefer to have as Christmas presents increased commitment by government at all levels to social development especially in terms of public education, public healthcare, social housing and expanded social protection cover. Our expectation as a national labour center is that by next Christmas, the hopes for affordable and quality education, healthcare and welfare to the poorest of the poor in our midst would no longer reside in the domain of hope but would be the existential reality of our people. This is the thrust of the Charter of Demands developed by Nigerian working people and our allies as the tool for political engagement as we approach the 2023 election cycle.

While we plan to change the political narrative by fully committing the political class to a defined and commonly shared national development agenda, we are concerned that the electoral field to cultivate our hopes for a transformed society is still cluttered with weeds and debris from the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment. The ball is back to the National Assembly. We urge the National Assembly to take the gauntlet and do the needful.

The spirit of Christmas is the celebration of love, care and empathy. We urge all employers of labour, public and private to fully implement the national minimum wage, minimum pension and ensure timeous payment of salaries. We feel the pains of Nigerian workers and families likely to spend this Christmas without salaries. We implore employers who turn the joy of Christmas to a jam of pain to cease and desist.

This is also the season to remember the poor, the destitute, the orphans and widows in their suffering and be a source of hope to them. We urge that care and caution should guide our conduct especially in relation to personal and public health given the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is better to be safe than to be sorry!

Once again, we wish Nigerian workers, pensioners and the mass of our people a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni
President
25th December 2021

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