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Workers Hope For Improved Minimum Wage, Reduced Unemployment

Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja

The 2016 International Workers Day may have come and gone, but the concerns for poor minimum wage and rising unemployment have continued to top the Nigerian workers’ agenda.

Prior to the May 1 commemoration, the duo of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had heightened their calls for the Federal Government to address the issues pertaining to the wages and welfare of the Nigerian workers.

The UNION reports that both NLC and TUC had, on April 27, proposed a new minimum wage of N56,000 (about $280) up from the current N18,000 (about $90).

They particularly admonished the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to urgently set up a committee to discuss the proposed new minimum wage.

Recent figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put unemployment and underemployment rates at 10.4 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively, for Q4 2015.

The above figures represent a steady rise in the level of unemployment from Q4 2014 (6.4 percent) to Q4 2015 (10.4 percent).

Job creation has remained an issue of key concern, as it still tops the list of issues that the Nigerians want Buhari to address.

Findings from the 2016 New Year Poll, as conducted by the NOIPolls, show this.

The following present a throwback of those past polls to commemorate the 2016 Labour Day.

“In 2011, a poll to gauge the opinion of Nigerians on the then recently signed ‘Minimum Wage Act’ intended to pave the way for the implementation of N18,000 minimum wage revealed that the majority of respondents (79 percent) polled at the time thought the minimum wage of less than N20,000 was adequate.

“There was also 15 percent of respondents, who favoured between N21,000 and N30,000; and leaving a meagre 1 percent, who had recommended between N41,000 and N50,000 at the time.

“However, fast-forward five years later, and the labour unions are back to the drawing board, agitating for a new minimum wage of N56,000.

“With the passing of time, we believe the findings from this poll would be somewhat different, if the poll was to be conducted today.

“Similarly, while unemployment has remained at the front burner in most policy discussions in Nigeria, labour unions have also argued that strengthening the country’s manufacturing sector could serve as a panacea to resolving the unemployment crisis in the country.

“In a recent interview, a labour union urged the government to re-invest in all the moribund textile factories and steel rolling mills as a way of kick-starting the nation’s economy back to life,” NOIPolls said.

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