Oscarline Onwuemenyi, with agency reports
22 July 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for collaborative efforts to achieve a new national minimum wage for workers.
The NLC Assistant General Secretary, Mr James Esutace, made the call at a one day- symposium on “N56,000 Minimum Wage; Implication for the Nigerian Workers”, organised by the Socialist Workers League, in Abuja.
The Socialist Workers’ League is an organisation of activists within the labour movement and civil society organisations.
According to Eustace, if the N56, 000 wage is implemented, it will help to reduce the suffering of workers. “There is no alternative to the N56, 000 minimum wage which is long overdue for review,” he said, adding that although it was underestimated, Nigerians would enjoy it.
“This is why the organised labour collectively put a demand on the Federal Government. If Nigerians do not rise up as workers to canvass for their right, by 2018, they will not be able to talk of a new national minimum wage.”
Esutace said that the National Assembly was on the verge of removing the minimum wage from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list.
He said if the effort of the National Assembly succeeded, the implication was that the country would not have a minimum wage but a segregated wage system.
“The national minimum wage is supposed to set a minimum benchmark. The philosophy behind the wage is to protect the unorganised and the vulnerable workers who do not have strong bargaining powers.”
Also, a former Chairman of NLC in the Federal Capital Territory, Mr Yahaya Abdullahi, decried the untold hardship that Nigerians were facing due to the economic recession.
Abdullahi said the situation had contributed to the poor wages that Nigerians earned. He said that the N56,000 minimum wage proposal was not enough to provide the basic needs of the citizens.
“Even the N56,000 cannot take care of our needs in this present economy but it is better than the N18,000 currently paid by government,” he said.
Mr Drew Povey, a Financial Consultant for the group, said with the social inequality in the country, Nigeria’s economy would not grow.
He said the problem with Nigeria was not that of development but inequality between the rich and poor.
Povey called for collective action in pushing the demand for the new national minimum wage to the government.