From Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
The gubernatorial candidate on the platform of Labour Party in Kwara state, Comrade Issa Aremu has attributed low income wages for Nigerian workers as a major impediment to the nation’s economy.
Aremu called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently add his presidential weight and push for a speedy legislation on a new negotiated minimum wage of N30,000 for Nigerian workers by the National Assembly.
He further said the prompt
payment of the existing salaries by states and local governments and urgent wage increases in both the private and public sectors are smartest and quickest way to stimulate the nation’s economy.
Aremu who is a NEC member of NLC explained that Nigerian workers are sadly poorer than their predecessors some forty years ago when the minimum wage was N125 which was equivalent to $240 in 1981.
He added that $240 of 1981 equals to N70,000,saying that in real and nominal terms, workers in 1981 earned more than the current N18,000.00 minimum wage.
“With Naira devaluation, it has unacceptably fallen to less than $45 in 2018, a quarter of its nominal value in 2016 and less than 1 per cent of its value in 1981 about 40 years agoworsening income poverty . “For Nigerian economy to recover, there must be massive public spending in reconstruction and significantly mass spending by working people through improved wages” He said.
Aremu said Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s communiqué issued after its Momentary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held recently believed that the proposed increase in the national minimum wage would stimulate output growth due to prolonged weak aggregate demand arising from salary arrears and contractor debt.
He hailed CBN’s report on the economy and the report of National Bureau of Statistics which have shown that weak demand for goods and services is one factor responsible for low capacity utilization of many private sector companies.
Aremu stressed that to overcome the current economic crisis in Nigeria, workers whose wages buy basic goods and services must not only be paid on time but their wages must be increased, adding that Nigeria cannot
overcome recession with the existing miserable pay of worker s and pensioners. “Wage-led economic recovery is smart economics” he said.
He said the objective of minimum wage is to protectthe lowest wage earners and guarantee the workers a decent standard of living, pointing out that Minimum Wage is a labour market instrument that offers asocial floor below which no worker falls.
Aremu said it is utterly impossible to fight corruption with poorly paid work force, saying that poorly paid worker is not only hungry but rightly angry and even vulnerable to corrupt practices.