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Minimum Wage: Organised Labour To Demand 2 Years Arrears Payment

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The Organised Labour on Wednesday said it would demand for two years arrears payment of the proposed new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers from the federal and state governments.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, President Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said this when Mrs Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary, Public Service International (PSI), visited him in his office in Abuja.

Wabba said that the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari in transmitting the executive bill to the National Assembly was worrisome.

“Workers in the country have made a tremendous sacrifice and I think going forward, we are going to demand for arrears of those two years we have lost.

“Because I think with all fairness and justice, as they are going out to campaign we will also go out to campaign for our minimum wage.

“I also want to inform you that we have passed the first hurdle and it took us almost a year to be at the tripartite negotiation table for a figure, and we have agreed on a figure of N30, 000.

“That figure has been transmitted to the Mr President who set up the committee and we have also told them to forward an executive bill immediately to the National Assembly.

“We are not unaware of the new tactics by the state governors to try to arm-twist what has already been done,’’ he said.

Wabba explained that six state governors were part of the negotiation process, with each representing their geopolitical zones.

He told Pavanelli how public hearings were held in the zones, where the state governors were invited to make their inputs.

“So, mutually on the negotiation table, we have looked at all other factors, especially factors that were provided in convention 131 and 95 of the International Labour Organisation on the minimum wage in which five factors were considered.

“The issue of the purchasing power parity, inflation, ability to pay, all those factors were considered and that is how our demand of N66, 500 was then agreed mutually on N30, 000.

“So, workers have made enough sacrifices as we have lost already two years,’’ he said.

Speaking earlier, the PSI General Secretary which covers over 170 countries said she was in Nigeria to show support for trade union movement in Nigeria.

She said workers in the public service were faced with a lot of challenges especially in Nigeria.

“Working for months, providing services to people without being paid is something that is unacceptable and this unfortunately what is happening here.

“In a country which is rich of resources that can have wealth distribute but it is oppressed by the greater international capital that wants to grab the resources and forget the people who create wealth for the country.

“This is very wrong and unacceptable, we must ensure good governance, social justice for the Nigerian workers, we will support you anytime you call on us,’’ she said.

She also noted that PSI was in Nigeria to fashion out ways of assisting the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

BIG STORY

Post-COVID Protest: China Loosens Strict Restrictions 2-Yrs After Pandemic

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China announced Wednesday a nationwide loosening of Covid restrictions following protests against the hardline strategy that grew into calls for greater political freedoms.

Anger over China’s zero-Covid policy, which involved mass lockdowns, constant testing and quarantines even for people who are not infected, stoked unrest not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy protests.

Under the new guidelines announced by the National Health Commission, the frequency and scope of PCR testing — long a tedious mainstay of life in zero-Covid China — will be reduced.

Lockdowns will also be scaled down and people with non-severe Covid cases can isolate at home instead of centralised government facilities.

And people will no longer be required to show a green health code on their phone to enter public buildings and spaces, except for “nursing homes, medical institutions, kindergartens, middle and high schools.”

The new rules scrap the forced quarantines for people with no symptoms or with mild cases.

“Asymptomatic infected persons and mild cases who are eligible for home isolation are generally isolated at home, or they can voluntarily choose centralised isolation for treatment,” the new rules read.

“Mass PCR testing only carried out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and high-risk work units; scope and frequency of PCR testing to be further reduced,” they added.

“People travelling across provinces do not need to provide a 48h test result and do not need to test upon arrival.”

China will also accelerate the vaccination of the elderly, the NHC said, long seen as a major obstacle to the relaxation of Beijing’s no-tolerance approach to Covid.

Rare demonstrations against the ruling Communist Party’s zero-Covid strategy broke out across China late last month.

They expanded into calls for more political freedoms, with some even calling for President Xi Jinping to resign.

Authorities cracked down on subsequent efforts to protest while easing a number of restrictions, with some Chinese cities tentatively rolling back mass testing and curbs on movement.

The capital Beijing, where many businesses have fully reopened, said this week that commuters were no longer required to show a negative virus test taken within 48 hours to use public transport.

Financial hub Shanghai, which underwent a brutal two-month lockdown this year, announced the same rules, with residents able to enter outdoor venues such as parks and tourist attractions without a recent test.

And once dominated by doom and gloom coverage of the dangers of the virus and scenes of pandemic chaos abroad, China’s tightly controlled media dramatically shifted tone to support a tentative moving away from zero-Covid.

The prevalent Omicron strain is “not at all like last year’s Delta variant,” Guangzhou-based medicine professor Chong Yutian said in an article published by the Communist Party-run China Youth Daily.

“After infection with the Omicron variant, the vast majority will have no or light symptoms, and very few will go on to have severe symptoms, this is already widely known,” he assured readers.

But analysts at Japanese firm Nomura on Monday calculated that 53 cities — home to nearly a third of China’s population — still had some restrictions in place.

Wednesday’s announcement came hours after the government released further data showing the crippling economic impacts of zero-Covid.

Imports and exports plunged in November to levels not seen since early 2020.

Imports in November fell 10.6 percent year-on-year, the biggest drop since May 2020, according to the General Administration of Customs. Exports fell 8.7 percent over the same period.

 

Credit: AFP

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BIG STORY

19-Yr-Old Endurance Arrested After Defrauding A British Lady Of £450K And Using The Money To Buy Cars, Gold Chains, Others

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A 19-year-old  man, Iredia Endurance has been arrested by the operatives of Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged fraud.

According to a statement released by Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the anti-graft agencym says Endurance was recently arrested by the Commission following a petition by one Chrstine Brown, a British citizen, alleging that the suspect defrauded her of £450,000.00.

“Upon arrest, the suspect confessed he received £250,000.00 from the complainant in Bitcoin, FedEx and gift cards. On what he did with the money, the suspect averred that they were expanded on cars, gold chains, and landed properties, among others.

Some of the items recovered from the suspect include mobile  phones, laptops, sim cards and landed property.” He added that the suspect will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.

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BIG STORY

38-Yr-Old Widowed Soldier With Fibroid Tortured For Attempting To Resign

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A soldier, Lance Corporal Philomena Nnamoko, has begged the Nigerian Army to allow her disengage due to her health condition and the maltreatment she received from her superior officers.

According to The Punch, the 38-year-old widow, who joined the Army on August 15, 2009, was attached to the 22 Support, Engineering Regiment, Intelligence Department, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.

Nnamoko said her trouble began early 2017 when she was diagnosed with fibroid and asked to leave the Army because of her illness.

The Enugu State indigene, with force number 09 NA/64/5618, said her request was turned down.

She said, “Around that time, late evening, I was tying a wrapper on my chest about to go relieve myself in the toilet when I met a commanding officer in my camp, so I greeted him. But he complained that I did not greet him properly. I instantly apologised but he became furious and started beating me. I fainted in the process with my wrapper off my body.

“The next day, he was transferred to Abeokuta, Ogun State, and I was advised to go there and lodge my complaint or write a statement. On getting there, I was thrown into the guardroom for four weeks and denied access to the cantonment commanders.

“When I was released, I went back to my barracks at Ijebu Ode. I had to go to a hospital because my medical condition was already getting worse. The hospital referred me back to a hospital in Abeokuta. But my commanding officer refused to give me pass to go to the hospital.”

The victim said she, however, found her way to the Onabisi Onabanjo University Hospital, Sagamu, to receive treatment.

She claimed that she was scheduled for an operation on August 29, 2017.

“Early that morning, I heard a knock on my door. I opened it and seven soldiers grabbed me. They took me to the guardroom and dropped me there. I bled profusely till I fainted. They rushed me to the Ijebu Ode Military Hospital.

“While I was on drip, an order came from the acting commanding officer that once the drip ended, I should return to the guardroom with immediate effect. I was taken back to the guardroom from there. I was so heartbroken that I almost committed suicide.

“I stayed in the guardroom for another three weeks. It was a civilian working there that went to my superior to plead with the acting commanding officer on my behalf. She also went to beg the Mowe Barracks Cantonment Commander Officer, who claimed he did not know I was locked up.

“After her pleas, they took me to a hospital in Ibadan and treated my wounds and said my fibriod would be operated when my blood pressure was normal. I stayed there for two weeks,” she added.

Nnamoko said when she returned to the barracks, her former commanding officer had returned and ordered her to get to work immediately despite her health condition.

She said, “From that day, my name appeared on the daily roaster. I worked every day tirelessly. I was demoted and put in the guardroom several times for offences I did not commit.

“I went to the Army Legal Service, Osogbo, Osun State, and they kept saying I should forgive them. I also went to human rights and they were invited but my commanding officers did not honour the invitation. I got a lawyer, the court also invited them, but they did not go to court.

“I have been writing for voluntary discharge. I have written nine times, they received five but never responded. I still have four that they refused to collect.

“I am passing through hell; since 2017 till date, they have been oppressing and intimidating me. I do not have rest or peace. I am not feeling fine; I want justice for the inhuman treatment and I also want access to resign from the Army.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Major Olaniyi Osoba, said he was not aware of the matter.

He, however, advised the victim to see him over the matter.

He said, “I do not think the officer has exhausted all administrative procedures. So, she should come and see me. I have to look into the complaints and ensure that she completes the administrative procedures for what she is complaining about.”

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