The Anambra State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress on Friday asked the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on workers’ welfare in the country.
Addressing journalists in Awka, the state capital, the NLC chairman in the state, Mr. Jerry Nnubia, said the emolument of the Nigerian worker had been diminished by the prevailing circumstances in the country.
He described the Nigerian worker as being the worst hit in the country, which is in recession.
“The N18,000 minimum wage they paid us when a bag of rice was N9,000 is still the same wage they pay us today that a bag of rice is N22,000 or more,” he decried.
He said in a recession, increasing workers’ emoluments should be among the top priorities of the government.
He said, “Looking at the cost of living in the country, the worker is the worst hit. Goods and services are getting more expensive each day, while the worker is paid peanuts like a slave.
“It’s pitiable. No health scheme for the worker. This increases preventable deaths among workers. A state of emergency should be declared on workers’ welfare in this country. That’s one sure way to get it right.
“Remember, we’re only talking about salaries; we’ve not talked about the working conditions of the Nigerian worker, which is nothing to write home about.”
In a related development, the NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said that only workers and poor Nigerians had been paying taxes in the country.
Wabba said that the Panama Papers — the leaked documents detailing the financial and attorney-client information for offshore entities — revealed that big businesses and the elite were evading tax payment in the country.
Wabba made the comment while addressing workers on the 2016 World Day for Decent Work, titled, End Corporate Greed,” in Abuja on Friday.
He also demanded that tax justice be upheld to solve the menace of corporate greed in the country, adding that all organisations and citizens must pay tax in line with the provisions of the law.
He said, “Let’s say enough to corporate greed. Comrades, part of why we are also canvassing the end of corporate greed is because of the fact that it is only workers and the poor that pay tax in Nigeria. It is only workers that pay what you call ‘Pay As You Earn’.
“According to revelations made by the Panama Papers, many big businesses and our elite in Nigeria don’t pay tax. Therefore, we demand tax justice. Every citizen and corporate organisation must pay tax according to the law. Why should only workers be the ones paying tax?”
Wabba also called on the government to review the minimum wage and keep its promises to better the lives of citizens.
“The working class is passing through a lot of difficulty. Salaries are not well paid as and when due, pensions are not being paid, gratuities have not been paid in some states in the last 15 years. Collective bargaining agreements are not being respected,” he said.