The Nigeria Labour Congress on Sunday lamented the devastating impact of the forex crisis on the economy and demanded urgent stabilisation of the naira.
The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, who said this in a statement on Sunday, blamed government officials’ love for foreign luxury products for the free fall of the national currency.
Ajaero warned that the economy was at risk of “a wave of devastating consequences” if the naira failed to stabilise against the American dollar.
The NLC president’s warning came ahead of the organised labour and the Federal Government’s meeting scheduled to hold today (Monday).
At the meeting, the Federal Government and the organised labour will review the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding they signed on subsidy removal palliatives.
In a statement titled, “Urgent action to stabilise the naira amidst alarming depreciation,” the NLC president, said repercussions of the weakened currency would be felt by workers and the masses.
While the investor & exporter window has been relatively stable at around N770 to 780/$, the parallel market, where most individuals and businesses get their forex from, traded at over N1,000/$.
The naira’s depreciation in the parallel market has been attributed to an increasing forex demand that does not equate to supply from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
This decline has further led to manufacturers struggling to get raw materials, with more companies planning to sack more workers or shut down. With the declining naira value, manufacturers are faced with cutting production, jobs, and raw material imports.
NLC blames politicians
The NLC, in the statement signed by its president, said public officials must stop their penchant for foreign goods to check the depreciation of the naira.
Besides the statement he issued the labour leader also addressed a press conference in Abuja on Sunday.
At the press conference, Ajaero disclosed that the union had been invited to the State House by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, on the implementation of the resolutions on subsidy removal palliatives.
He said, “Hopefully, we may meet tomorrow (today) with the Federal Government to see whether the agreement with organised labour on the fuel subsidy removal palliatives was met or not.
If that meeting is to be held, it will be without the Minister of Labour and Employment (Simon Lalong) because we will not be part of any meeting with the Federal Government that the Minister of Labour and Employment will attend.
Labour warns minister
“You will recall that the decision we had on the National Union of Road Transport Workers was that all parties including the police should leave the premises, pending the resolution of the dispute but that did not happen. Therefore, any meeting we will have with the Federal Government, the minister of labour and employment will not be part of it,” the labour leader vowed.
The NLC had earlier accused Lalong of giving support to a faction of the NURTW and encouraging them to conduct their own delegates conference, both zonally and nationally, in a bid to confer legitimacy on the group.
Based on the allegation, Ajaero said the union believed that any meeting with the minister would be a waste of time “since he appears not to be in control of issues as far labour relations are concerned.’’
Confirming today’s proposed meeting, the National Vice President of NLC, Adewale Adeyanju, said the organised labour would inform Nigerians about the outcome of the parley.
“I think the government knows what to do because we signed a communiqué with the government. So, the communiqué is binding on the two parties. Whatever the outcome is, you will hear from us to know the next action.
The introduction of discriminatory pay practices and the imposition of apartheid-like policies in determining monthly payments is an affront to fair labour practices. The government has failed to address the eight-year backlog of gratuity owed to retirees, showing a grave disregard for the rights of those who had dedicated their careers in service.’’
Ajaero further lamented that the government had persistently shirked its duty to implement the N30,000 National Minimum Wage, a critical safeguard for the economic well-being of workers.