President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba argued at the conference that the struggle for a new minimum wage has become even more compelling in the face of economic recession in Nigeria.
His words: “We wish to state that the situation of the working poor in Nigeria continues to be dire and exacerbating. It is for these reasons that we have demanded and achieved the composition of the tripartite national minimum wage committee to deliver an upward wage review.”
Wabba, who was responding to the report of the Director-General of ILO, Guy Ryder, noted that report encapsulated a well thought out approach to the key issues of the moment in the world of work and development, especially the green initiative aimed at protecting the planet earth from the harmful effects of human activity.
He the Nigerian labour movement shared Ryder’s view that social justice through decent work was a panacea to global peace, as there cannot be sustainable development without respect for human dignity.
He stated that migration, as an unstoppable human phenomenon, will require broad-based collaboration, especially as the world seeks shared migration benefits.
Wabba hinted that Nigeria and Africa’s demographic trends suggest that the continent would require assistance on youth’s skills development and employment creation opportunities.
He told the gathering that Nigerian workers were worried about the huge Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) from Africa, saying, “the African Union has established that a very conservative figure of $60 billion leaves Africa annually through IFFs activities.
Also speaking, Deputy President of NLC and President Africa of the Public Service International (PSI), Peters Adeyemi insisted that government does not have any genuine excuse for not constituting the tripartite committee on minimum wage.
He said: “For us in the labour movement, there is no reason the tripartite negotiation committee should not have been constituted by now. Nigerian workers are groaning under heavy yoke. So many of them can no longer afford basic necessities of existence.
“In the past two years, there has been monumental loss of value of the Naira, which completely erodes the usefulness of the N18, 000 national minimum wage that has been due for negotiation since last year.
Meanwhile, the ILO has urged protection for children caught up in conflict zones around the world.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Day Against Child Labour, Director General of ILO, Guy Ryder observed that children in conflict and disaster areas were most vulnerable to child labour, adding homes and schools were often destroyed in such areas.
“Many families lose their means of income. Family and social protection systems break down and increase the risk of child labour. Child refugees and migrants, particularly those on the move who are separated from their families, are especially vulnerable and can easily fall prey to trafficking and child labour,” Ryder added.
“All children have the right to be protected from child labour. Yet there are still 168 million children in child labour around the world. Eighty-five million of them are engaged in hazardous work,” he said.