The federal government of Nigeria recently disclosed its plan to increase the minimum wage of workers in the country following the current reality.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige, while addressing members of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC at a public presentation of a publication titled, “Contemporary History of Working Class Struggles.”
The minister disclosed that the intentions of the government to increase the minimum wage of workers in the country, was due to the current global inflation that has ravaged the global economies as well as negatively impacting the purchasing power of citizens.
He expressed delight that the 2019 Minimum Wage Act included a new clause for a review which would make it easier for the government.
He further disclosed that the President Buhari-led administration had already begun the wage adjustment with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
In his words, “The inflation is worldwide, we shall adjust the minimum wage in conformity with what is happening and much more important, the 2019 Minimum Wage Act has a new clause for a review.
“That adjustment has started with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), because the stage they are, with their primary employers, the Ministry of Education, is a Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, negotiations”.
“Under the principles of offer and acceptance, which is that of collective bargaining, ASUU can look at the offer they gave us and make a counter offer, but they have not done that.
“If they do that, we are bound to look at their offer. These are the ingredients of collective negotiations. If you don’t work, you won’t eat,” adding that labor provided the riches of any nation as well as the prosperity of every family”.
The labor minister further stated that looking at how unfriendly the economic situation is, the current minimum wage of N30,000 would not in the present economic reality pay workers’ transportation fares to work for a month.
Even before the world witnessed a global inflation, coupled with Nigeria’s harsh economic condition, the minimum has since inception never been enough for workers to cater for their household.
With the constant devaluation of the Naira and the rise in the price of foodstuffs/commodities, workers in Nigeria have had their purchasing power affected.
It is disheartening that Nigeria’s inflation rate continues to rise while the minimum wage has not in any way improved, thereby empowering the lives of citizens.
Statistics disclose that prices of goods and services, measured by the Consumer Price Index, increased by 15.63 percent in December 2021 when compared to the previous year.
Given the country’s constant increase in the price of goods and services, unemployment, insecurity, among others, is it then not expedient for the government to increase the minimum wage of workers.
The poverty index pegs extreme poverty at those living on less than US$1.90 a day. In Nigeria, the minimum wage currently amounts to about US$1.75 per day, which reveals how a large percentage of Nigerian workers are perilously close to extreme poverty.