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Minimum wage: Labour accuses nine govs of instigating constitutional crisis

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Nigeria Labour Congress has accused nine governors of being behind attempts to move the national minimum wage from the exclusive to the concurrent legislative list.

The NLC has also threatened to shut down the nation over move to amend the constitution to remove minimum wage from the exclusive list to concurrent list.

But the Senate assured the labour leaders that the National Assembly would not take any action inimical to their interest.

Although the NLC leadership did not name the nine governors, records from the labour show that Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Kwara, Kogi, Cross River, Zamfara, Nasarawa and Abia are yet to commence payment of N30,000 minimum wage about two years after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Act into law in 2019.

The NLC described the nine governors as “anti-workers,” saying one of them is using the sponsor of the bill against the interests of Nigerian workers.

President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, addressing workers in Abuja during the nationwide protests, said, “When the N30,000 minimum wage was fixed, it was negotiated. Six governors represented the interests of the geo-political zones. We had MAN, SMSE, LCCI, NECA also on the table.

“Our demand was N66,000 – looking at the economic challenge and how the purchasing powers of Nigerian workers have dwindled but through the process of dialogue and negotiations, including the ability to pay, on the negotiation table we were reasonable and everybody agreed on N30, 000.

“That is how the report was submitted to Mr President, a bill went to the National Assembly, there was a public hearing and it was promulgated.

“We are then taken aback by a few governors. Let me mention that the governors are nine – because some of them gave us this information; they are only nine out of the 36 that are anti-workers.

“We are told and nobody has contradicted this fact, that they (lawmakers) collect N13m per month.

“How can he (the bill sponsor) in his right senses say that the current minimum wage of N30,000 is too much for Nigerian workers? Can we say shame to him?”

Wabba also said, ”The issue of National Minimum Wage is a standard set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the first agency of the United Nations(UN) born in 1919 after the first world war. So we have the powers of the UN.

“What I am reiterating  is that: the national minimum wage is not a Nigerian standard. It is an international standard. Their argument is that because they want federalism, they want the issue of the National Minimum Wage to be removed to the Concurrent List. That is false.

“In the countries of the world, we have 26 federal nations that have minimum wage in their Exclusive List,  including the United States. As I speak to you, the minimum wage of America is $10 per hour. President Joe Biden came in and the first statement he made was that he is going to review the national minimum wage.”

The bill sponsored by Garba Mohammed from Kaduna State has passed first and second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill seeks to decentralise the payment of minimum wage to workers in the country to allow states to pay according to their financial capacity.

Labour organised the protests at the National Assembly complex in Abuja and House of Assembly complexes in the 36 states.

Addressing the workers, the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Abdullahi Sabi said told them not to worry, adding that a similar bill in the 8th Senate never saw the light of the day.

 

Railway

Police still on trail of Warri-Itakpe rail track vandals – NRC

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• Says vandals risk life imprisonment
Vandals of a section of the newly inaugurated Warri-Itakpe rail track have not been arrested, contrary to an earlier report, the Nigerian Railway Corporation has said.
Coordinator of the new rail line operation, Abdulganniyu Saani, an engineer, who stated this, also dismissed the viral video of the arrest of five suspects with a vehicle load of rail track sleepers, saying it was an old clip of an incident around Jos, Plateau State taken some years back.
He also said the latest cutting of Warri-Itakpe track material was not on the main lane but an extra lane, which had not disrupted the running of freight and passenger trains.
Saani spoke in an interview with NewsTrends on the telephone, warning that vandals would be treated as manslaughter suspects with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment upon conviction because their activities could lead to fatal railway accidents.
He also said that a number of traps had been laid for the arrest of the vandals still on the run and other hoodlums that might be contemplating of vandalizing or stealing railway materials.
“The police in Kogi State where the incident had happened are on the red alert. They are working with other security agencies to apprehend the vandals and anybody who dares tamper with railway materials.
Details later…

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Aviation workers threaten one-week shutdown of Kaduna airport from Sunday

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Aviation workers have threatened to withdraw their services at the Kaduna airport from Sunday, May 16 to Friday, May 21.
The workers in a statement on Saturday said their action was in support of the Kaduna State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over “anti-labour practices perpetrated against public servants in Kaduna State”
The statement was jointly signed by Ocheme Aba, general secretary of the National Union Of Air Transport Employees (NUATE); Rasaq Saidu, general secretary of the Association Of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANANP); and Umoh Ofonime, deputy general secretary of the National Association Of Aircraft Pilots And Engineers (NAAPE).
NLC had said that over 20,000 state workers had not received their April salaries, adding that due process was not followed in the recent disengagement of over 4,000 workers from the local government service, state universal basic education board and primary healthcare agency.
The statement read in part, “As you are all aware, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has declared strike action against the Kaduna State Government over numerous anti-labour practices perpetrated against the public servants of Kaduna state.
“Our unions, being affiliates of the NLC, are part of the decision and are in support of the action against the Kaduna State Government In this regard, our participation on the planned shutdown of Kaduna State is hereby affirmed.
“Accordingly, all aviation workers at the Kaduna Airport are hereby directed to withdraw all services at the airport with effect from midnight of Sunday the 16th of May 2021 to midnight of Friday the 21st of May 2021.
“The effect shall be the total grounding of operations of the Airport within the stipulated period. By this notice, members of the public are advised to make alternative travel plans within the period.”

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Remittances to Nigeria drop by 28% – World Bank

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Remittance inflow to Nigeria dropped by 28 per cent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank has said.
The bank added that remittance flows fell for sub-Saharan Africa by 12.5 per cent, according to its Migration and Development Brief 33 Phase 11 entitled: “COVID-19 Crisis Through a Migration Lens’’ published on Thursday.
The report said the decline in remittance flows to Nigeria was largely responsible for the fall in remittance flows to sub-Saharan Africa.
“The decline in flows to sub-Saharan Africa was almost entirely due to a 28 per cent decline in remittance flows to Nigeria.
“Excluding flows to Nigeria, remittances to sub-Saharan Africa increased by 2.3 per cent, demonstrating resilience,’’ the report stated.
According to the report, the relatively strong performance of remittance flows during the COVID-19 crisis has also highlighted the importance of timely availability of data.
It stated that given its growing significance as a source of external financing for low and middle-income countries, there was need for better collection of data on remittances.
It emphasised that there was need for better collection of data on remittances, in terms of frequency, timely reporting, and granularity by corridor and channel.
With global growth expected to rebound further in 2021 and 2022, remittance flows to low and middle- income countries are expected to increase by 2.6 per cent to $553bn in 2021 and by 2.2 per cent to $565bn in 2022.
The report stated that global average cost of sending $200 remained high at 6.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, more than double the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of three per cent.
It stated that sub-Saharan Africa continued to have the highest average cost (8.2 per cent) adding that supporting the remittance infrastructure and keeping remittances flowing includes efforts to lower fees.
The true size of remittances, which includes formal and informal flows, is believed to be larger than officially reported data, though the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on informal flows is unclear.
“As COVID-19 still devastates families around the world, remittances continue to provide a critical lifeline for the poor and vulnerable,” said Michal Rutkowski, Global Director of the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank.
“Supportive policy responses, together with national social protection systems, should continue to be inclusive of all communities, including migrants,” he said.

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