NLC condemns FG’s plan to increase VAT

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the Federal Government that any plan to increase the value added tax (VAT) would further impoverish Nigerians.
The congress 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 president, Ayuba Wabba, represented by the NLC’s head of information,  Benson Ukpah, at the presentation of a book titled “Developmental Unionism” in Abuja,  said that working class people in the country were more hit by the current economic challenges in the country.
He lamented the current division within the ranks of organised labour in the country saying it was weakening the bargaining power of the Nigerian worker, to the advantage of employers and government.
Wabba said it was unfortunate that while capital was consolidating, leading to some transnational corporations becoming far richer and far stronger than government, unions were fragmented 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.”
The NLC president said the economy was going through challenges that were 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.
“These challenges 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 arms.
“Whenever some of our political leaders take our money 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 because, “Corruption has eaten into the fabric 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, David Kayode Ehindero, called for a united labour movement in the country, while government and corporate organisations should entrench welfare policies in their day-to-day activities.

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