The Organised Labour says that it will resist move to renegotiate the N66, 500 minimum wage at any level in the country.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said this during the 2018 May Day celebration for workers in the country on Tuesday in Abuja.
Wabba said, “From the first Minimum Wage of N125 which was equivalent to $200 in 1981 to the current Minimum Wage of N18, 000, Nigerian workers have always been forced to bargain so hard, wait for too long and at the end made to endure very little returns that tend to mock their input to national development.”
He said the process of upward review of the National Minimum Wage to meet the current economic realities was ongoing in the country.
He said: “We shall resist any move to renegotiate the minimum wage at any level.
“We are battle ready against public and private organisations that would refuse to conform to the new minimum wage.
“As the benefits of a new minimum wage cannot be over emphasized, an increase in the minimum wage will pull many workers out of poverty.
“A new minimum wage will put the country in positive light globally as it would ensure compliance with the International Labour Organisation standards.
“Our current demand of N66, 500 as the national minimum wage will only manage to meet the basic needs of the average Nigerian worker if inflation is kept at a single digit,” he said.
The NLC president noted that the recent nationwide minimum wage public hearings have unmasked the enemies of Nigerian workers.
‘We’ll vote out govs owing salaries’
President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Bobboi Kaigama, made similar call for workers in the country.
He said the diversion of the bailout funds have been a growing concern to the organised labour.
“As we speak, many states still owe their workers between five and ten months’ salaries and pensions arrears.
“We demand immediate probe for state governments that are known to have diverted the funds, while culprits should be made to face the full weight of the law.
“What the erring states have done is a form of terrorism against the Nigerian workers. We have identified the states that owe salaries and pensions arrears and serious mobilisation is ongoing to vote out such governors in the next general election in their states,” he said.
The TUC President, while speaking on the challenges of the economy, expressed concern on the dearth of infrastructure; insecurity, weak naira and less investment on human capital development, among others.
He, however, decried the delay in the passage of the 2018 National budget.
Why FG supports minimum wage – Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, speaking at the Eagle Square, Abuja, venue of the celebration, acknowledged the historical contributions of Nigerian workers and organized labour to the political, economic, social and cultural development of the nation.
He said the Nigerian organized labour has always been at the forefront for a better Nigeria the restoration and sustenance of the democratic order.
“This administration has remained committed to improving the welfare of the Nigerian people. When we came into office at least 22 States were owing salaries, some for a whole year. If you recall in November 2015, the President said and I quote, all my life I have always earned a salary, so I understand what it means when your salary is not paid or when it is not enough.”
“The President’s concern for workers is not a theoretical or rhetorical one, but one borne out of experience and respect for the sweat of the working classes, This is why we evolved mechanisms to bail out all the 36 states of the federation, to the tune of N1.91 trillion, in recognition of the shortfalls in their finances arising from the oil shocks of 2015/2016. We have extended this support regardless of party affiliation, to enable them to settle the backlog of arrears of salaries and pensions of workers.”
Osinbajo said that the present administration recognized that payment of salaries and pensions is essential and conscious of the increasing cost of living which has rendered the current Minimum Wage Instrument obsolete.
The vice president said even though there are arguments regarding fixing minimum wage in a federal state like Nigeria, “it is the responsibility of government to establish the necessary social protection floor for all Nigerian workers based on the ability of each tier of Government to pay.”
“The argument for a national minimum wage, therefore, cannot be faulted because minimum wage is the minimum amount of compensation an employee must receive for putting in his or her labour and as such should be anchored on the principles of social justice, equity, and fairness.”
Also speaking, Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, commended the Nigerian workers for their resilience towards the nation’s development.
“You should uphold the principle of the use of strike as a last resort in the pursuit of socio-economic goals and aspirations.
“Let us endeavour to conserve our man days’ productively.
“I promise you our doors are open to engage your leadership towards a consensual end in all relevant matter of interest to you all,” he said.
Ngige also called on workers to join government in its fight against corruption.
ULC wants N96,000 as minimum wage
The President of United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC), Mr. Joe Ajaero yesterday urged the federal government not to use minimum wage as a political strategy for 2019 general election, saying that the union will resist any attempt by incumbent government to politicize the issue.
Ajaero who was speaking at May Day rally organized by the union at national stadium in Lagos, said payment of N96,000 as a minimum wage to workers should not be trivialized, urging government to expedite action so that the report of the committee can be submitted for passage into law.
“Nigeria workers have suffered enormously and we hope that the wage floor eventually agreed will lift Nigerians workers to earn decent wages. We are represented in the minimum wage presidential committee and we have made our position known that N96, 000 remains the irreducible minimum for us in ULC based on clear and verifiable data”, he said.
Gombe recommends N28, 000 as minimum
The Gombe State Government has already recommended the sum of N28, 000 as the new minimum wage in view of the current financial situation in the country.
The state Head of Civil Service and Chairman of the Minimum Wage Committee, Alhaji Adamu Haruna Abubakar, who said this at the north-east zonal public hearing organised by the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, added that the new minimum wage could only be realized if the federal government review the revenue allocation formula in favour of the states and local government areas.
Workers should demand for welfare not wage increase – Experts
A professor of Economics and former Chief Economic Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Professor Ode Ojowu said although he has no idea on the basis at which the NLC arrived at the N66, 000 minimum wage, but the union should have asked for a better welfare for a worker through better infrastructure and quality health care and education in the country.
He said although the agitation for salary increase is germane, but increase in wage without providing good and quality infrastructure by government will not solve the problems of the workers.
“If government can provide good rural roads whereby farmers will take their farm produce at ease to the market that will help crash food prices. At the same time investment in health and education will provide the workers quality services at cheaper rates,” he added.
He urged the workers to add in their agitation the creation of more jobs to millions of unemployed youth, saying that, by getting more people to work, dependency ratio on the workers will reduce drastically, and that means more savings for the workers.
“I am not condemning the agitations or wage increase at all, they deserve to have an increase in their wages, but what I am saying is that, a nominal increase in wages is inferior to the real issues. Creating more jobs, providing quality infrastructure will improve welfare but simply focusing on the wage increase without consideration of the things that increase the cost of leaving will not help them much. “If not very soon they will be asking of N100, 000 from the N66, 000.”
Also, a lecturer of Economics at the Lagos Business School, Dr Bango Adi said if market economics are considered, wages increase is not a wise thing to do at this time. “Because going by the history, each time wages have increased, it comes with high level of inflation. This is because the wage increase is not driven by quality or productivity. It’s simply for political reasons. Eventually, it is inflation that will pick up.”
But he suggested that instead of looking at increase in workers’ salary alone, the government should also consider reducing the salaries and take home of political office holders and other top level officials and at the same time adjust the workers’ salary up a bit.
“By doing so, there will be equity and fairness to the workers and to the country in general. What we have now is huge inequality between the working class and the politicians”.
Culled from DP