Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has to be aggressive if it wants the new minimum wage to be implemented.
Oshiomhole gave this advice on Thursday at a reception in honour of Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The federal government had approved a new national minimum wage in April, however, implementation has been delayed.
“We have to do things differently about minimum wage,” he said, noting that whereas prices of goods and services had gone up astronomically in the country, workers wages have remained static.
“So if every other cost is changing, and labour cost is constant…, somebody is being squeezed.
“Rising crises, stagnant wages, a very miserable lifestyle, and you have to fight for that.
“And we now see in Nigeria the difference between signing an agreement and the challenge of translating those laws, and even the contradiction of signing laws first before getting consultants to tell us how to implement these laws.
“Just to tell you that from inside, I am much more convinced that unions should not only exist but should have the capacity and ruthlessly deploy that capacity to ensure that the resources of states are dissipated in favour of working people and working families.”
Oshiomhole, who was a former NLC president, said Nigeria ought to do something about its population growth which was at 3%, as against 2% national economic growth.
In his remarks, Ayuba Wabba, the NLC president, commended the ILO for the privilege given to Nigeria to host the Global Youth Employment Forum.
According to Wabba, trade unions have put workers and employers on a pedestal that allows collective bargaining.
Wabba said NLC would continue to seek ILO’s support for capacity building and intervention for Nigeria to be at par with its counterparts, pledging more commitment to the values of social dialogue on minimum wage and other issues affecting Nigerian workers.