As the world marks International Workers’ Day, organised labour is miffed that Africa’s biggest economy pays one of the lowest national wages in the world, just as they called on the Federal Government and other stakeholders in the socio-labour community to discuss a way forward on the prevailing N18,000 minimum wage.
Nigerian workers are today joining the rest of the world to mark this year’s May Day, also known as Workers’ Day, in commemoration of May1886 killing of striking workers in Chicago, and the early struggles by workers to actualise legal establishment of an eight-hour work a day.
As in other countries, workers from different sectors of Nigeria’s economy will be converging on Abuja and respective state capitals, for a march past and to press home their usual demands for better working condition, welfare and pay package.
Last year, labour submitted a proposal of N56,000 and N90,000 to the Federal Government as new minimum wage, but this is yet to be officially discussed and bargained, to arrive at a census.
Bobboi Bala Kaigama, president, Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria, says asides high inflationary rate, Nigeria’s N18,000 is about the lowest in Africa, and condemns a bill sponsored by Ayeola Abdulkadir, a member of the House of Representatives, seeking to remove national minimum wage from the Exclusive list to the Current list, describing it as ill-advised.
Speaking also, Alade Lawal, secretary-general, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), says while Nigeria totters in better national minimum wage for its workers, countries around the world including those in Africa have moved ahead.
Lawal listed Argentina to be paying $ 6,370 per month; Algeria, $2,145; Botswana, $652; Brazil, $3,660; Chad, $1,217; Republic of the Congo, $1,826; Ecuador, $5,124; Equatorial Guinea, $2,618; Estonia, $6,534; Gabon, $3,043, while Nigeria’s minimum wage of N18,000 translates to $59.
Also, Goke Olatunji, president, National Union of Chemical Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Products Employees (NUCFRLMPE), calls on President Muhammedu Buhari to look into the minimum wage.
“The present N18,000 minimum wage is not able to buy anything from the market. We want the government to increase it but it should not lead to inflation. Federal Government should ensure that the state and private sector should be able to implement the policy when an agreement is reached,’’ Olatunji says.
He also calls on the government to seek ways of improving the economy, saying the poor economy has continued to impact negatively on workers’ welfare. “There is urgent need for the government to formulate and implement policies that would bring relief to Nigeria workers,” he says.