The Federation of Informal Workers’ Organisation of Nigeria (FIWON) says it supports the warning strike declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC ) and advised the federal government to create minimal social protection for workers.
The NLC declared a warning strike to press for increasing workers’ minimum wage following hyperinflation occasioned by the petrol subsidy removal.
This is contained in a statement signed and issued by the federation’s general secretary, Gbenga Komolafe, on Tuesday.
At its emergency virtual meeting held recently, Mr Komolafe said FIWON’s National Executive Committee noted that Nigeria workers have been facing extraordinary challenges since the federal government removed fuel subsidy.
He said successive governments’ programmes and actions since 2020 have aggravated gross income inequality and attacked productive activities in the informal and formal economy.
“Let us look at the policies of currency redesign, fuel price hike and gross devaluation of the naira as announced and implemented by the government in this year 2023 alone,” explained Mr Komolafe.
The FIWON general secretary added, “Also, the programmes announced by President Bola Tinubu’s government to cushion the effects of the present realities have further led to a spike in absolute poverty and immiseration with increased desperation, spike in crime and social vices.”
According to him, the federation supports the NLC’s demands for an urgent wage review to reflect present-day economic realities for civil servants.
The organisation, the secretary said, also recommended the immediate adoption of CNG to facilitate CNG-powered vehicles as an alternative to premium motor spirit.
It also called for the immediate payment of salary arrears of ASUU members withheld by the federal government.
“The immediate implementation of free health coverage for children under five years old, as well as pregnant women and elders of 60 years and above. As it is, these categories of Nigerians are excluded from the basic health plans of most HMOs,” FIWON said.
The statement further called for a review of the so-called Micro Pensions Plan for Informal Sector to ensure government part funding of informal workers’ pension contributions.
In the long run, it said the review would protect informal workers in old age and make them live longer lives.
Mr Komolafe further called for introducing social pensions to the most vulnerable, especially old people, the infirm and those unemployed for long periods.
“It is our conviction that only a minimal social protection package as above can help resolve the pervasive crisis of social insecurity, growing social anomie and desperation among the downtrodden mass of working people in the informal sector,” FIWON said.