PICTURES: Organized Labor Protest In Calabar, Seek N200,000 Minimum Wage

In Breaking News, National News, Reports

By Godwin Otang and Veronica Utsu

Nigerians and members of the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) as well as the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Wednesday protested around Calabar, the Cross River State capital to press home demands for a better society.

The organized labor is seeking a reversal of the hike in electricity tariffs and planned hike in taxes by the Government. They are also seeking an increase in the minimum wage to NGN 200,000 and for the federal government to utilize the savings from the removal of fuel subsidies in ameliorating the sufferings of the masses.

“This is a peaceful protest and not a strike because the Government went to Court to stop the strike,” Comrade Gregory Olayi told those gathered at the NLC Secretariat at Marian road before the protest began. He said the situation of workers and the masses is now unbearable.

His TUC counterpart, Comrade Monday Ogbodum said the actions of the current administration was suffocating the masses, hence the decision of Labor to take action to, “let the masses breathe.”

Despite warnings that those without labor uniforms shouldn’t join the protest, several Nigerians joined later on in what became a mini carnival with labor leaders taking turns to address onlookers including in Hausa at Bogobiri as well Efik, Yoruba and Ibo at the Etim Edem Park.

A mini stage play showing the frustrations of workers was dramatized at the 11-11 roundabout with a visibly weary man, Mr. Bassey Edem said he has been living off crumbs from dustbins, but the situation is now terrible as he cant find leftovers in dustbins.

The protest terminated at the Governor’s office after the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Peter Odey addressed and received a letter from them containing their demands.

Odey assured them that he will take their message to Governor Bassey Otu who will in turn take it to President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, he drew jeers from the protesters when he said he feels their pain and buys fuel at the same price as them.

Earlier, the protesters went to the House of Assembly where the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Elvert Ayambem received a letter from Comrade Olayi and told them that the Assembly was a postal agency that would receive every information and transmit it to the appropriate authorities.

“I am never against what you people are doing. It is only an insane person that would be against the labor union. You don’t buy from different markets. We all buy from the same market. What is biting you is biting us. Where it is itching you is equally itching us. I share in your pain, that if the subsidy is removed, let the application be done on your salaries and wages,” Ayambem said.

Ayambem, who said he shares their pain, said when Governor Otu returns, he will first take the Nigerian Medical Association to him and table the demands of Labor immediately after.

Watch the live feed with commentary by Jonathan Ugbal here.

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