The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) National Executive Committee (NEC) met on 22nd March and called for pickets of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) offices and threatened a stay at home by members of its public sector trade union. That evening the CBN Governor met with the heads of the banks and promised to release old currency notes that would remain legal tender until the end of the year. The next day the CBN Governor met with Joe Ajaero, the new president of the NLC, to reassure him that everything was being done to end the currency crisis. Over the next few days, the banks started re-distributing the old currency.
This shows the power of the trade union movement. A crisis that had continued for two months despite Supreme Court judgements was ended in a few days when the trade union leaders finally decided to act. We congratulate the NLC for its action, but we now need its demands to be extended.
The fuel shortages and resulting price hikes have continued almost non-stop since at least October last year. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently said that the price of fuel has increased by over 50% in the last year and at times the black market price has been over twice the official price. The price of diesel is now over N800 a litre and the price of petrol in Ghana is around N600 a litre. This indicates what will happen to the price of petrol, if the subsidy is removed in June, as Tinubu has threatened.
The minimum wage of N30,000 has never been worth less. In some states it still remains to be implemented in full almost four years late. We need action from the trade unions now to ensure that this becomes a living wage. We also need to move to annual increments so that its value keeps pace with inflation. The trade unions need act to ensure that wages and pensions are always paid when and as due.
We need proper funding of education so that tuition fees are not necessary. Access to tertiary education should be on the basis of ability, not ability to pay. We need maximum solidarity with ASUU to achieve their demands.
We need the full implementation of the NLC Charter of Workers Demands. Until all these demands are actually implemented we need effective protests and strikes to be organised by all trade unions. We need maximum solidarity to improve our lives. Unite we stand! Divided we continue to fall!!