Niger Workers Reject Governor’s Palliative Plans

The Niger State council of the Nigeria Labour Congress has directed workers in the state to boycott the Palliative Distribution Committee set up by Governor Mohammed Bago.

The council, which kicked against the governor’s plans for palliative distribution, said the pathetic situation in which the working class and pensioners found themselves in Nigeria and Niger State in particular left a lot to be desired.

The state chairman of the NLC, Idrees Lafene, and his counterpart in the Trade Union Congress, Ibrahim Gana, addressed a press conference on Monday in which they lamented that the state governor had skimmed out the working class and pensioners in the palliatives.

“The deliberate plan by the Niger State Government to skim out the working class and pensioners in the palliatives has triggered serious tension among members of the organised labour that could have a negative effect on the overall productivity of the working class.

“Although we identify with the Governor on his efforts to be accountable to Nigerlites, as exemplified in his address on the subject of palliatives, the decision to exclude the working class and retirees in the first phase of the planned palliatives stamps logic in the head and will not be accepted by the working class, who toil daily to create wealth for the state,” the council said.

They alluded to an understanding between the state government and organised labour that the working class would be included in the palliatives to ease their suffering and expressed concern that the state governor did not come out clearly to include them in the first phase of the palliatives.

While noting that the organised labour had proposed a N50,000 flat rate for workers in a meeting held with the governor, the State Administrative Council of the organised labour issued nine demands, including payment of N50,000 on a flat rate basis as palliative to all working class and retirees in the state and LGAs; suspension of PAYEE until further review of the minimum wage; and immediate implementation of a minimum pension based on the N30,000 national minimum wage for retirees in the state and LGAs.

Others are monitoring and enforcing price control measures on essential commodities; completing the rehabilitation of infrastructural facilities across the state and LGAs; and improving the security situation in the state and LGAs, with special emphasis on encouraging local vigilantes, among others.”

The NLC said: “Despite the rising inflation, insecurity, and hunger that greeted the untimely removal of subsidy on PMS, the Federal Government has refused to dialogue with organised labour in good faith on options to cushion the agony and hardship faced by the masses of Nigeria, especially the working class.

“To press home our demands, the national headquarters of the NLC has directed workers in the 36 states and the FCT to down tools in a two-day warning strike on Tuesday, May 5, and Wednesday, May 6, to test the ‘microphone’ in preparation for a full-blown strike. Niger State organised labour has already mobilised workers to comply fully and comprehensively.”