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‘It’ll cripple the economy’ — Bala Mohammed asks labour to shelve planned strike

Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi state Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi state

Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi, has asked organised labour to shelve the planned nationwide strike scheduled for June 3.

Mohammed spoke on Saturday after his visit to Alex Otti, governor of Abia; Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo; and members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national working committee (NWC).

The governor said the strike may cripple the economy and cause pain to workers.

On Friday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) declared an indefinite strike over the federal government’s refusal to increase the minimum from N60,000 and failure to reverse the electricity tariff.

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“The strike is because of the government’s refusal to increase the minimum wage and also their refusal to reverse the electricity tariff hike,” Ben Ukpa, the NLC spokesperson, said.

The organised labour had given the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the federal government an ultimatum of May 31 to reverse the electricity tariff hike.

On April 3, NERC approved an increase in the electricity tariff for customers in the Band A classification—from N66 to N225 per kwh.

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The tariff hike attracted public outcry and calls for its reversal.

The labour unions had also given a May 31 ultimatum for the federal government to finalise the new national minimum wage fixing process for workers.

So far, the federal government has proposed a minimum wage of N48,000, N54,000, and most recently, N60,000.

The NLC and TUC rejected all proposed minimum wages and insisted on N615,500, citing the high cost of living.

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The Bauchi governor warned that the country could descend into “severe poverty” if the labour go ahead with the strike.

“I have always looked forward to making sure that workers get the best in terms of welfare, in terms of salaries and wages, but it has to be affordable—something that is within the threshold of affordability by all the sub-national and local governments,” he said.

“Definitely, what the federal government will be negotiating, some of the state governors will not be able to pay.

“Even at the moment, with the current minimum wage of N30,000, some states are not able to pay.

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“And I know labour leaders are really leaders.

“They should look at this because the strike may cripple the economy and further cause pain to workers and all of us.

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“So, we are pleading that we should have a combining point where we can look at our affordability.”

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