Incumbent President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba has begged the Federal Government to exempt the new national minimum wage from taxation.
He said this after he was re-elected on Wednesday at the 12th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of the Congress.
Wabba and other members of the 16-member National Administrative Council, (NAC) emerged last night; as the NLC appealed to the Federal Government to amend the present income tax law to exempt the expected new minimum wage from been taxed.
Comrade Wabba and the other 15 officials were all re-elected unopposed to lead the Congress for the next four years.
Three persons elected as the Deputy Presidents were Amaechi Asugwuni, Muhammad Nadir Idris, and Najim Usman Yasin, while Ibrahim Khaleel, was elected National Treasurer.
The four persons elected Vice-Presidents were Abdrafiu Adeniji, Peters Adeyemi, Lawrence Amaechi and Oyelakan Lateef.
Other officials elected include Marwan Adamu, as the National Financial Secretary and Adewale Adeyanju, National Trustee.
Wabba, while accepting the responsibility placed on him said the struggle would be to ensure the implementation of the new minimum wage by federal and state governments.
He called on the state councils to be ready for the battle ahead for the implementation of the minimum wage, without retrenchment.
He assured that the Labour movement would continue to take instructions from the rank and files and would always speak the truth to the powers to protect the interests of the working class.
According to him, “we will dedicate ourselves to ensure that the challenges workers face are confronted headlong. Workers are treated as slaves while those that don’t even work hard take higher pay.”
The new leadership, according to Wabba must build workers the power to be able to change the equation and must confront the political power to ensure that workers live decent lives.
He added: “The new leadership of NLC will respect the will of members and consolidate on what we are doing. We will continue to conform to the tradition of the union and speak the truth to those in power. The daily challenges of workers at workplaces will be confronted. We have been able to work assiduously in the past four years and we will move forward to build workers poser. I assure our members of our commitment and dedication to the resolutions of the conference.”
The Congress also called on the government to exempt the expected new minimum wage from taxation.
This follows the adoption of a motion submitted to the delegates conference by the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) during the plenary session,
The General Secretary of NUTGTWN, Comrade Issa Aremu, who presented the motion said there was twin assault on the real income of Nigerian workers caused by the unrestrained devaluation of Naira and high rate of inflation.
He stressed the need to put pressure on the Federal Inland Revenue Service to raise the tax bar in such a way that N30,000 minimum wage would fall below taxable income, while he also called for tax holidays for some categories of Nigerian workers.
Comd Aremu, who was a gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party in Kwara State said: “Now that we have raised the minimum wage to N30,000, we must impress it on the FIRS to raise tax bar so that the new minimum wage will be protected.
“If you tax minimum wage of N30,000, we may as well go back to N25,000 or N27,000 by default. The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives raised the point and I think labour must push the agenda to protect the new minimum wage.
He condemned the delay in the process for the new minimum wage, saying it was taking too long.
He, therefore, called on the NLC to discuss strategies and plans for effective implementation of the new minimum wage, particularly at the state level.
He added: “The N30,000 is actually a compromised amount from N56,000 earlier proposed, so it must be protected. If the Federal Government can give 10 year tax holiday to companies, why not give the same to workers? Given the collapse of income, today, Nigerian workers deserve tax holidays. We are not asking for this because we consider our job as charitable, what workers have in their pocket is what will turn the economy around.”