Minimum Wage: Labour, FG Disagree Over Increase of Workers Salary
On Thursday, April 18, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the National Minimum Wage Bill into law. That signing of the Bill into law makes it compulsory for all labour employers to pay their workers the sum of 30,000 naira monthly. Three months after that, the president approved the implementation of that bill for federal public workers who are currently earning below the minimum wage.
However, the organized labour has voiced its disapproval over the percentage increase for senior civil servants. They appear to agree with the minimum wage of 30,000 naira but want to know how the benefits will accrue for those who earn well above the minimum wage.
The President of Trade Union Congress, Quadri Olaleye had accused the Federal Government of not showing enough commitment to the implementation of the new minimum wage signed. According to him, “The organized labour has been considerate by lowering its initial demand on increasing the salaries of officers at grade levels 7 to 17 by 66.6 percent as the rate at which the minimum wage was increased. Yet, the government side is only offering 9.5 percent for grade levels 7 to 14 officers, and 5 percent to those on grade levels 15 to 17.
Olaleye vows that organized labour will not accept this. So, it may be forced to call for an industrial action.
Rotimi, who joins hosts Wemimo Adewuni and Sherif Quadri speaks on the seriousness of the issue.”As I always say, it’s like there’s no one in government that sits down and looks at the implication of what they do and do not do. Definitely, there are some people in government who think that it is them against the people, whereas they are actually there to serve the people. Hence we hear things such as people should not test their wills, or anybody criticizing them is not patriotic.
“This is something that was negotiated and agreed. Even the government was in breach of the law because it took more months than was required for the review to start. Without any protest it should have happened. It should be automatic.”
Wemimo chips in that the review should have occurred every five years.
“What I’m concerned about,” continues Rotimi, “is the developmental and economic side of this matter, not the strike. Now, Nigerian workers do not have any disposable income. That income is significant to economic growth. If there is a scenario in which you buy water for various uses and you spend 1,000 naira a day, that’s 30,000 naira per month. If you have a small generator and you power it with 500 naira a day or with 1,000 naira a day, that’s another 30,000 naira per month. If a person falls sick, he or she has to choose between health and other important things. Husband and wife will start considering things together. Should they eat or should they let the children die of malaria?”
Mr. Muda Yusuf who has already made recommendations regarding the minimum wage, said it is “generally a governance issue and this challenge is part of what has always obtained in Nigeria over the years. We are talking about purchasing power and we know what is happening economically in Nigeria right now. We also know how progressively purchasing power has been eroded.
“Ideally, the government needs not be reminded about the review, taking into consideration the wages of the workers in the public and private sector. There is also the talk about inflation but the real value of what people have been earning has been progressively been reducing. So there should be a framework to preserve the value of earnings at the minimum periodically.
“There was a time in this country when you could buy a brand new car for just 10,000 naira. In those days fresh graduates could afford to buy new cars. This is not a distant history but the way we have managed the economy itself has led to the degeneration of income and also the way we managed the currency is part of what has also led to all of these. In those days people were earning 90, 100, 150 naira a month and they were able to live well and take care of their families. So what happened between then and now?”
Idris Babatunde Qudus on Facebook commented: "I will urge the Govt and Labour to come to the negotiating table and fashion a way out of this protracted wage issue. Nigerian workers deserve a living wage across board."
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- Journalist, Policy and Development Expert Mr. Rotimi Sankore
- Director General, Lagos State Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mr. Muda yusuf
Morning Crossfire with Wemimo (@wemimospot) & Sheriff (@SheriffQuadry)
Written by Jude Chukwuemeka