By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has served a notice of reminder to the Federal Government (FG) on upward review of the national minimum wage which currently stands at N18,000.
The Congress also urged FG to reverse the sale of the electricity distribution companies (DISCOs), saying that the current operators had demonstrated lack of will, capacity and competence to invest in the power sector and provide power to deserving consumers.
These were contained in a presentation to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by the congress during a courtesy visit at the State House, Abuja.
TUC President, Mr Bobboi Kaigama said the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act 2011 would be five years old in March and in recognition of the International Labour Organisation’s Minimum Wage Fixing Convention 131 of 1970, an ad hoc committee should be raised every five years for the review.
“We use this opportunity to serve notice that it is time for the FG to set up that committee and mandate it to kick start work on the fixing of a new minimum wage.
“We trust that this will be done immediately to save Nigerian workers from the harsh effects of present day economic realities which is taking tolls on their meager incomes’’ Kaigama said.
He described the current increase in electricity tariff as “anti-people’’ and the Act of the National Assembly empowering the electricity regulator the unilateral power to increase and disallowing same legislature from tampering with the Act as “very lame, too simplistic and misleading’’.
“Any Act that preys on the masses that it is supposed to protect negates the very essence of public policy.
He added: “In the same vein, any act that compels the citizens to pay for services not delivered is not only flawed and undemocratic but ultra vires to the power of the National Assembly to make laws for the good of the country.’’
TUC pointed out that the telecommunication operators brought funds, expertise, service delivery and competition in their business which Nigerians were happy about adding that the sole aim of the DISCOS “is profiteering through fraud’’.
It said that the DISCOs had failed to implement their own part of the contract with poor electricity and non- availability of meters being experienced nationwide.
“We expect the presidency to issue a categorical statement affirming a return to status quo ante regarding the unit price of electricity,’’ Kaigama said.
The delegation further urged the FG to resolve the lingering crisis in the health sector by distributing appointments in the health sector to no fewer than 20 professional bodies in the sector rather than to the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) alone.
Kaigama further appealed to the government to honour and implement all agreements reached between it and the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) since 2009.
The TUC asked the FG to resolve the outstanding issues in the ministries, departments and agencies regarding non-payment of promotion arrears outstanding since 2007, non-payment of first 28 days allowance in lieu of hotel accommodation and non-payment of duty tour allowances (DTAs) to workers.
The workers body also called for the revival of the textile and construction industries for job creation and appointment of its members to boards to strengthen them.
It hailed the FG on the fight against corruption and insurgency and called for life ban from public office for any one indicted for fraud or other financial crimes.
“It is evident that the spate of killings by the insurgent Boko Haram group has drastically reduced even as the murderous group has been cut to size.
“Indeed the Nigerian Armed Forces, Police and other security agencies have recorded much progress in the fight against militant groups and other threats to national security,’’ TUC stated.