Sunday, 9 November 2014

U-Report: Labour Party Seeks Revision of Nigeria’s Minimum Wage

Report By Labour Party Publicity Unit

The National Secretary of Nigeria's Labour Party, Barr. Olukayode Ajulo on Thursday recommended an upward review of Nigerian Workers minimum wage, in accordance with the extant National Minimum Wage Act signed by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010.

Barr. Ajulo, a constitutional lawyer who also doubles as the Chairman of Egalitarian Mission for Africa, said the present wages of Nigerian workers going by inflation indices was below international standards.

"The N18,000 minimum wage currently in place in Nigeria is grossly inadequate to cater for any home. What is worse is that these same workers who toil for the nation are compelled to buy from the same market that the politicians looting the nation's treasury go to," Ajulo said. “Ideally, minimum wages should be reviewed regularly in order to maintain workers’ purchasing power, especially in the face of skyrocketing prices on the market. At the current exchange rate of N 166 naira to $1 dollar, no worker should earn less than N 25,000, if the N 125 minimum wage when the  1981 minimum wage Act was enacted is anything to go by.

He warned that if the trend of the rich getting richer and the woes of the masses continued unabated, Nigeria maybe facing a situation that would be worse than the Boko Haram Insurgency.

"The worst thing that can happen to a nation is hungry citizens. It is unfathomable how the nation's leaders fail to see the impending danger of perennial hunger in the land. A situation in which states spend billions on frivolities and populist jingoism, golden beds and the proverbial gangster’s wedding cake is unacceptable. Those governors who want to compete should do so on the basis of ‘my workers are better fed and more humanely rewarded than yours’ rather than the attitude of ‘my state house is bigger than yours.’

"Revenge by the poor will be worse than a holocaust and that is what will happen if nothing was drastically done to reverse the present situation" Ajulo said. He urged the Federal Government to urgently put in place a committee that would ensure that a review is put in place before the end of the year.

"The Nigerian workers constitute major stakeholders in the electioneering process. We cannot get our democratic process right with workers that are hungry," he said.

Ajulo, however, urged the Nigerian workers to also rise up to the situation to demand for their rights in the polity. He recalled that the current democracy would not have been possible without the great political labour strikes of the 1990s which energized the process and reinvigorated the people in their fight against the military dictatorship even when some of the politicians had abandoned ship or merely ‘siddon look.’

“The struggle was championed by the Labour Movement, the affiliates in the oil sector and Civil Societies and for which the rank and file as well as the leadership paid dearly, some with their career and lives. It is therefore unacceptable that the condition of the Nigerian workers worsen pari passu with economic rebasing and improving business climate and the declaration of Nigeria’s as largest economy in Africa. Nigeria cannot be a symbol of justice and equality when we juxtapose the large economy with the shrinking size of the workers dinner table.

"The voting powers of workers must not be underestimated. The workers can actually decide who wins at all levels if they set out to organise themselves," he further said

He also took a swipe at state governments that fail to implement the existing N18, 000 minimum wage, pointing out that the issue of minimum wage is a minimum benchmark and that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention does not provide for selective application or review by state or local authorities. Rather, what is paramount is that the state governments should do the needful by putting in place legislations that would ensure compliance, sanction in case of default and adequate compensation of employees whose rights have been breached. If even in America the home of capitalism, a national minimum wage review from $7.25 per hour to $10.1 per hour is being proposed by the Obama administration, then there is no reason why Nigeria, a fledgling democracy in the throes of developmental challenges should not embrace minimum standards it set.

"This is where I faulted the just concluded National Conference for failing to come up with strong recommendations that would put the Nigerian worker at par with their foreign counterparts. As signatory to the African Charter on human a Peoples’ Rights which became a force of law by the Act of 1990, non-compliance of the minimum wage or whimsical and selective implementation is unacceptable, inhuman and clearly an anti-labour posture. It is retrogressive and reprehensible beyond description. It is clearly amount to abdication of responsibility.

The statement further stressed that “It is important that political parties take a clear stance on this, so that Nigerian workers will know exactly where their bread is buttered and know who to vote for as Labour Party is all set to ensure that social justice and equal opportunity take root in Nigeria. The move to remove minimum wage from the exclusive legislative is not only backward, but also illegal and irresponsible in the face of existing reality where Nigeria is signatory to the ILO convention.

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