Oscarline Onwuemenyi 21 December 2015, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) is pushing for the review of the N18, 000 minimum wage being paid to workers in the country. It said the review of the slave wage is long overdue, urging the workers to close ranks and demand for N54,000 as new minimum wage.
The immediate past President of the union, Comrade Mansur Muhammed Musa, argued that it is only when this is done that workers would put in their best.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari should demonstrate the change mantra by increasing the minimum wage to N54, 000 so as to eliminate corruption at that level and also give workers a new lease of life.
According to him, without a review in the wage, workers would continue to work like elephant and eat like ants, adding that the dignity of labour must be respected.
“There should be dignity in labour. So, N18, 000 minimum wage is out of the question. We should come together and demand for N54, 000 minimum wage,” he insisted.
Speaking with journalists in Lafia, Nasarawa State, after the Union’s fifth Quadrennial/10th Delegates Conference, Comrade Musa, dismissed as huge joke threats by some governors not to pay the N18, 000 minimum wage because of the financial crunch induced by the fall in oil prices in the international market.
Some governors had recently expressed concern that the N18, 000 minimum wage was imposed on them when oil was sold for $126 as against the present price of $41 per barrel and that they cannot pay. This did not go down well with workers.
Many of them, including Musa argued that apart from the fact that the National Minimum Wage Act is due for review after five years of becoming law, the current purchasing power of the naira has made the N18, 000 minimum wage unsustainable.
“They (governors) have told us they cannot pay the minimum wage, but they have not told Nigerians whether they cannot also pay the maximum wage because we know they are taking the maximum wage,” the labour unionist said. “What are they saying about their own maximum wage or is it only the minimum of N18, 000 that they are giving to workers that they cannot pay?”
The former NUEE chief, who handed over the mantle of leadership to a new president elected at the end of the conference, insisted that there were areas of wastages in the country that needed to be curtailed to free up resources to pay workers a new minimum wage of N54, 000.
He noted that, “If we can reduce the areas of wastages, we won’t have problems. Go to any of the Government Houses, nobody drives a Golf car; they are all driving jeeps.’’
“Look at the convoy of governors when they are going from one place to another; look at the cost of fuel for their vehicles, personnel, and other allowances; you can go on and on and on. So, they can pay the N18, 000 minimum wage. We are not even asking them to pay only N18,000 minimum wage now or sustain the payment of N18, 000, we are asking for a review from N18, 000 to about N54, 000 or N60, 000 as minimum wage.”
Comrade Musa said with the upward review a worker can manage to go to work, take care of his children, feed them, pay their school fees so, he can now concentrate on the job. “The worker’s productivity will be better and there won’t be corruption; it will bring down corruption to the lowest level,” he added.