=ISSA AREMU, General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Textile and Garment Workers and key NLC leader in this interview with SECURITY MONITOR echoes the need for more formidable labour movement. Aremu also urges NLC members to participate in partisan politics so as to effect the desire change needed for the country to grow


Following the divisions that were orchestrated by the last NLC elections, a panel has been set up to harmonize various thoughts and interests and the panel is doing wonderful job. The resolution is there; they are in the public domain that we have to defend the interest of Nigerians workers and we should also not repeat what has happened in the past, which is that once you have closed nomination for the elections you don’t re-open them. That was actually the genesis of the crisis. We actually lead the first protest because of the re-opened nominations. Secondly, we also said those who have retired, who are no more working has no business to be on the executive of the NLC. They must step down, so that we can co-opt other comrades who are still active to occupy those positions. Lastly, we also call for the review of the secretariat. The general secretary which did not follow the laid down role of the NLC they and all others like should be reversed. So those are resolutions and they are enough for us to address once we address them the all united union of NLC will come back.

Even in the last May Day we all should have done it together that was the resolution, but unfortunately there are some mixed up communications. So we couldn’t have join committees that will agree on the Day and venue together so that we all speak to the workers in one voice and not have disorder voices such as while one is talking about certain naira as living minimum wage, another would not be talking of different figure.Isaa Aremu NLC


You see, we were highly disappointed by Presdent Mohammed Buhari. The president who was as Candidate Buhari maintained frequent presence at our secretariat during the electioneering campaign could not attend the first May Day during his regime and he could not even be represented by his deputy. So, to me that was a huge disgrace and disappointment. It was like a use and dump game where one is considered unimportant after he has been beneficiary to you. But I think the politicians are neglecting the NLC because of the divisions in the union. I don’t want to call it factions but admittedly there are divisions in the labour movement today and that is what the public officials are banking on to neglect the union

However we need a purposeful unity and we have to be united; because if we were not the employers we play us against each other and we will get divided over small issue. When we talk of employers it is not just the 36 state governors that refused to pay, there are thousands of employers in Nigeria. There are private sectors which are also paying salary. What we’re saying is that those employers who are not paying salary are doing so not because of their inability to pay, but they just don’t want to pay. So we must get our are priority clear, NLC which I came from said for our struggle to make sense on the minimum wage, we must also enforce the payment of the existing salary by the state governors who are yet to pay, or delay beyond the normal working day. Of course, it is worse enough to delay payment of workers salary for more than three month, four month, and seven months. It is criminal, what am saying is that we must be more aggressive with our demand for living wage and not minimum wage.


We have already given our proposal to the government and don’t forget minimum wage is not that government will just issue cheque to pay us, we have to debate and discuss about it. Proposal is different from agreement. Last time when we review minimum wage from five thousand five hundred, one years before we negotiated and it has expired that is the reason why we are given proposal and the minister of labour says they are studying it. They would soon call for meeting and the meeting is the combination of employers, governors and the labour groups to negotiate it, so that we will be clear over it and don’t forget even the last time we went on the strike before that agreement was done and we have prepared for another round of the strike. In conclusion workers deserved not just minimum wage, but living wage because minimum wage is actual not meant for most workers. It is for those below, most workers are beyond minimum wage. What they are looking for is living wage and this also has implication on thousands of pensioners. As I was talking to you today some pensioners are collecting five thousand naira per month because of low pay. So this demand is also for the pensioners and in any case some of us will also become pensioners very soon. So we must think about life after work.


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