The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is objecting to any plan by government to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT).
The NLC declared Friday that any such move would further impoverish Nigerians.
It said that instead of increasing VAT and thereby placing more burden on the people, government should go after all individual tax dodgers and multinationals that are in the habit of not paying tax, but prefer to negotiate what they want to pay.
The NLC position was made by its President; Ayuba Wabba represented by the Head of Information, Comrade Benson Ukpah at the presentation of a book entitled “Developmental Unionism” in Abuja.
Wabba also lamented the current division within the rank of organised labour in the country saying it is weakening the bargaining power of the Nigerian worker to the advantage of employers and government.
Wabba said it was unfortunate that while capital is consolidating, leading to some transnational corporations far richer and far stronger than government, unions are fragmenting and doing the exact opposite.
He said: “If you look at the social partners, whereas the government has power and resources and employers have resources, unions do not have the material resources the two other social partners have except their labour as well as strength in their unity and this should not be discountenanced.”
He said the working class people in the country are more hit by the current economic challenges in the country because “our economy is going through challenges that are unprecedented.”
“In fact, not even the unfortunate civil war created this kind of situation for Nigerians. When we have challenges in the economy, they directly translate into the working and living conditions of workers.
“Thischallenges also directly affect our unions. When salaries and pensions are not regularly paid, they transmit poverty and suffering to our homes.
“When inflation rises without commensurate rise in pay, this reduces the capacity and purchasing power of the worker and reduces the quality of food and standard of living of the worker. The present economic challenges are directly felt more by workers than any other member of the Nigerian community.
“The other challenge we face in the world of work at the moment is that while capital is consolidating, leading to a situation where we have transnational corporations far richer and far stronger than national government, unions are fragmenting and doing the exact opposite. So, this further weakens the bargaining power of unions because strength lies in unity.
“The other challenge we have is that while capital is able to move, Labour is not allowed to move. Each time there is a project of Foreign Direct Investment, the government welcomes them with open hands.
“Whenever some of our political leaders take our money and take it outside the country, nobody questions them. The billions of naira that has been taken out of this country was done with the aid of foreign collaborators.
He stressed the need for every Nigerian to join in fighting corruption.
“Corruption has eaten into the fabrics of this country and we must fight it and restore the integrity and honour of this country so that our children can stay back here and not be treated like dogs in South Africa.
Author of the book, Comrade David Kayode Ehindero called for a united labour movement in the country, while government and corporate organisations should entrench welfarist policies in their day to day activities.
Ehindero who is the Chairman of the Kwajalein state chapter Agricultural and Allied Employees Union of Nigeria said there was the need for organised labour to come together in the spirit of patriotism and value placement to achieve a realistic development and advancement.