Angry workers in their thousand disrupted the 2017 May Day celebrations at the Eagle Square, Abuja, over the failure of the Federal Government to give them a new minimum wage in the country.
The workers insisted that the Federal Government had a responsibility to give them a definite position on the lingering issue of a new minimum wage in the country.
The workers were also angry that neither the President nor the Vice President was at the event to address them on the grave issues of survival affecting them.
The incensed workers rejected all entreaties by their leaders to calm them down as they chanted ‘No! We need a new minimum wage.’
They insisted that the N18,000 minimum wage has become inadequate to feed their families and indeed to survive in the face of the biting effects of the economic recession in the country.
Trouble started when the workers who had gathered in front of the podium to listen to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, were told that the Acting Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Abiola Bawa, was to address them on his behalf.
This seemed to have angered the workers who insisted that the minister should address them on the issue of minimum wage while they would wait to see the representative of the President.
They rejected the explanation by the President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, that the minister could not read his own address as he was meant to read the President’s address as his representative.
The angry workers brought out their posters and chanted “we need a new minimum wage now” and insisted that the event would not continue until the issue was addressed.
However, when Ngige mounted the podium, they again insisted that they needed a new minimum wage and that he had nothing to offer them.
They insisted that they were tired of being deceived on the issue of the minimum wage amidst growing economic hardship in the country.
Labour leaders of the NLC and the TUC made frantic efforts to douse the tension for Ngige to address the workers without success.
Even when the organized Labour brought out former Governor of Edo State who was also a former President of the NLC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, the workers refused to listen to him.
The highest political office holders who attended the event were the President of Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
Some of workers were heard telling the President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Bala Kaigama, that food items, building materials, and indeed everything in the market had increased in price while the naira had continued to lose value.
“There is no salary, there is nothing, the naira is coming down and everything in the market is going up; you cannot buy school items, you cannot buy building materials, you cannot buy food items. Everything is just going up…”
When asked to react to what happened and what the workers told him, Kaigama said that the NLC and TUC would address the press on the issue.