Canvassing A Retooling Of The ‘Change Agenda’ And A New Minimum Wage, Nigeria Labour Congress Scores President Muhammadu Buhari Low On Economy
Citing non-improvements in the country’s economic index and the renewed spate of terrorist bombings in the Northeast region, which has led to the killing of more than 500 Nigerians since assuming power on May 29th, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday scored President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration low.
It also wants the President, and his party -All Progressives Congress (APC)- to retool their ‘Change Agenda’. The Congress said the change agenda “is not working as Nigerians expected”.
NLC’s General Secretary, who also doubles as Chairperson, Industriall Global Union Federation Sub-Saharan Africa, Comrade Issa Aremu, dropped the hint at the inauguration of Nigerian chapter of the National Council of Industriall in Lagos. The labour leader said there was need for President Buhari to rethink the idea behind the ‘Change Agenda’, as it is not working in reality to the expectation of Nigerians.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on President Buhari to rethink and look at his agenda on how to rule Nigeria because the change we are looking for is not coming at the pace we are expecting it. “It is time we call a spade a spade. The President has to go with the pace of Nigerians.
It is extremely important. And I am saying this; he has to re-organize his priorities for Nigerians. “I want to advise him not to follow the footstep of some of his predecessors who spent much time abroad than at home during their regimes. You all know the story very well of this President I am talking about. “President (Olusegun) Obasanjo, he attended G-8, G-11 and by the time he was leaving the office, he remembered G-NEPA is not working,” he said.
The NLC scribe insisted that there would be no going back on a new minimum wage structure in the country, adding that “organized labour is already reviewing the actual minimum salary for Nigerian workers which will be forwarded to the Federal Government and National Assembly for consideration”.
He said Nigeria has a vibrant wage structure review which started since 1981, adding that the last minimum wage in the country came into effect in 2010. “Thus, the country’s wage structure is now 34 years old”, he said. The NLC scribe stressed that what prompted the new minimum wage structure is the reality of things in the country as the dollar was increasing on a daily basis besides “it is due for review as it is reviewed every five years.
“One of the objectives of industrial war is that we must fight for living wages for our members who really identify with this campaign. And exactly we are in the forefront of the struggle for living wage for African workers and Nigerian workers in general. As a matter of fact, living wage is central to decent work agenda,” he stated. Speaking further, Aremu said “I want to say we have reviewed this minimum wage from 1981 to up to date now which is about 34 years. And currently we have N18,000 minimum wage per month.
This may look small but when you compare it to where we are coming from. The first minimum wage was N125 that was in 1981. “In nominal terms, this N18,000 is bigger than the minimum wage of 1981 but if you look at other factors you will discover that the minimum wage of 1981 was far stronger than the minimum of 2015.
“As a matter of fact, this current wage is now due for review. We hereby call on Federal Government as well as the National Assembly to put machinery in motion to review this minimum wage for obvious reasons.” He alleged that workers wage structure was devalued by 31 percent, decrying that government intervention was needed with the implications of the foreign exchange rate.
“The time we signed this present minimum wage in 2010, Naira was exchanged for N98 to $1. Today as I am talking to you, Naira as at the day before yesterday was exchanged for N230 to $1. There is massive decline in the value of the currency.
“The minimum wage we had in 2010 was $130 per month but today with devaluation, if you divide N18,000 with N230, you will discover that our minimum wage has fallen from $130 per month to $81 per month; which means minimum wage has fallen by 31 percent.
So it is not only that the current minimum wage structure is due to inflation and devaluation but it is also due for review”, the NLC scribe noted. He also carpeted state governments that could not pay their workers’ salaries saying that the problem of delay in payment of salary to workers was dangerous for democracy.