…Foresees Nigeria as dumping nation with AFCFTA agreement
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has said it no longer trusts the Federal Government’s commitment to the implementation of N30,000 as minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
Besides, the union said with the signing of the African Continental Trade Area (AFCFTA) by President Muhammadu Buhari recently, Nigeria may become a dumping ground of foreign goods.
The union’s President, Mr. Quadri Olaleye, who noted this in Lagos at the weekend said the union was disturbed that the enthusiasm that greeted the signing into law of the new national minimum wage of N30,000 was fast turning into a nightmare.
Mr. Olaleye said, “From the look of things, it appears the Federal Government is not committed to implementing the new minimum wage arrangement going by the way its representatives in the committee set up to negotiate the consequential adjustment arising from the new minimum wage are handling the negotiation. The organised labour has been considerate by lowering its initial demand for increasing the salaries of officers on Grade Level (GL) 07 to 17 by 66.66 per cent as the rate at which the minimum wage was increased, yet, the government side is only offering 9.5 per cent for GL 07 to 14 officers and five per cent to those on GL 15 to 17.”
He said the organised labour had thought that the issue of consequential adjustment would be negotiated openly and in the spirit of collective bargaining which, according to him, unfortunately, had not happened.
He further said, “As it stands now, we may be forced to go to the trenches. We sincerely hope that the government will act fast and direct its representatives to return to the negotiation table with a more realistic mandate that will be beneficial to workers who have had to wait for almost a decade to get something meaningful added to their emoluments.”
On AFCFTA, Olaleye noted that no serious nation signed such agreement and went to sleep, stressing that Nigeria’s gain of the treaty was the ability to push its goods across borders.
“As a congress, we have our concerns over the agreement. We have the population, but lack the basic infrastructure that is capable of making our industries strive. The agreement will further kill the economy as we remain a dumping nation if we continue to be a consumer nation. Our gains essentially depend on our ability to push our goods across borders. The energy sector has to be improved upon to boost productivity and lower cost of production, and also source raw materials locally. We must make free trade agreement serve our interest,” he said.
Olaleye also said urged the Federal Government to encourage more local investors in the aviation sector, emphasising that with the continuous opening of major airports to foreign airlines, capital flight and joblessness were inevitable.