Stakeholders, including the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, have decried the failure of some states’ failure to pay the N30,000 minimum wage despite the country’s rising cost of living.
Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) signed a bill into law in April 2019 that raised the monthly minimum salary from N18,000 to N30,000. Top leaders from the Nigerian Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) bemoaned the country’s current economic predicament, noting that several states had yet to begin paying the minimum wage.
They emphasized the need for the government to alleviate employees’ hardships and advocated for an extra palliative to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the previous year’s economic downturn.
Last month, the National Bureau of Statistics reported that the inflation rate in May was 17.93 per cent, down from 18.12 per cent in April.
The Nigerian naira was devalued last month when the Central Bank of Nigeria approved the NAFEX exchange rate of N410.25 per dollar as its official exchange rate, just days after removing the N379/$1 rate from its website.
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The minimum wage we agreed on in 2019 is not even a whole answer to the situation,” stated Mr Olugbenga Ekundayo, Chairman, TUC, Lagos State Chapter. The epidemic arose after that agreement was reached. People have lost jobs as a result of the lockdown, and a lot has happened since then.
There has been a recession and serious inflation. You can say, as it is now, reviewing the minimum wage again won’t be out of place. However, there are terms of engagement, there is a requirement for when or how soon the review should be.
The truth of the matter is workers are complaining. Right now, there is a need for the government to supplement and that can be done through different palliatives.
Sunday stated that the union has written to the government requesting that the workers be given extra benefits.
“We have written to the government to provide tax incentives and other welfare activities that can help workers cope with the current situation. Those are things we expect the government to do,” he added.
Funmi Sessi, the Lagos State Chairman of the National Labour Congress, condemned the failure of some state governors to pay the N30,000 minimum salary.
He said, “We would like to consider reviewing the minimum wage, but we are still talking about some governors who have refused to pay the N30,000.”
“The governors were part of the negotiation. The demand by the workforce was N65,000 initially, and the stakeholders were assembled and they deliberated for more than two years before we agreed that only N30,000 could be the best for the workers. So, how come the state governors are now saying they cannot pay the N30,000? That is what a family has to depend on for a month.”
She emphasized the need for the government to promote Nigerians’ well-being, adding, “The government should give some palliative measures for Nigerians because poverty is increasing at an alarming rate.” Our politicians are unconcerned about Nigerians’ plight.”
Hajiya Saratu Aliyu, the immediate past President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture claimed that raising the minimum wage will lead inflation to rise.
Aliyu said, “The situation in the country is very harsh on everybody. We all know that the minimum wage is not adequate for workers. Increasing the minimum wage is not going to work because everything is expensive in the country.
“The best thing for the government to do is to bring down the prices of food items so that everybody can afford to buy food.”
Prince Degun Agboade, President of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, believes that states should be able to set their minimum wage.
“Minimum wage should not be increased generally but on a state per state basis. That would mean they pay according to what the economy indicates. I agree that prices are going up, inflation is on the rise, and salaries should be increased.