From Femi Oyelola Kaduna
The Nigeria Labour Congress had commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the historic inauguration of the minimum wage review committee “saying it’s better late than never.
A member of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Congress, Comrade Issa Aremu stated this in a statement made available to the media in Kaduna yesterday.
According to him, the 5 year cycle of the current Minimum Wage Act legally backing the subsisting negotiated minimum wage of N18000 signed by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010 was due for negotiation in 2015, two years ago.
He added that, the historic inauguration once again demonstrates the globally acknowledged concern of President Muhammadu Buhari to the welfare of the workers and citizens in general as contained in 1999 constitution.
“History will record it that at a time some state governors unacceptably defaulted in paying workers as at when due, the President commendably wondered aloud to ask how these governors go to bed while for whatever reasons their workforce are not paid.
“President Buhari also went further to work his fatherly concern through serial bail outs of the defaulting states.
“Nigerian workers are grateful to him for the presidential sensitivity and direct prompt actions on workers’ pay. We also formally thank all progressive governors who pay their workers before their monthly sweat dry.
“The point cannot be overstated. The Federal, States and Local Governments are not just employers of labour, they are also enforcers of labour laws and have the responsibility to ensure minimum standards are maintained with respect to decent wages for workers by both the public and private sectors.” He said
Aremu disclosed that the presidential committee is rich with experienced stakeholders and inclusive of all labour market operators. Under the chairmanship of Mrs Amma Pepple, former Head of Service.
The expectations are very high that the negotiation will be fair and just to the workers and national economy in line with the President’s inaugural speech.
“With high inflation and Naira devaluation due to fallen crude oil prices the value of current minimum wages and pension had been eroded.
“At the time we submitted our proposal a year ago, at N160 to one dollar the national minimum wage was about 80 dollars per month.
“Today with Naira devaluation, national minimum wage is around $40 dollars. The paid salaries can hardly take working men and women home with all the attendant negative implications on income poverty and low productivity.
“We therefore look forward to a mutually speedy rewarding negotiation on a new minimum wage.
“Nigerian economy would certainly move fast to full recovery, if as a country we put an end to the persistent crisis of compensation of the working class.
“Nigerian economy can only recover fully with enhanced purchasing power which is only possible through prompt and adequate payments of the employed workforce.
“The point cannot be overstated that improved wage is good economics for a developing nation like ours.
“The low capacity utilization of the remaining functioning manufacturing industries is due to weak domestic demand. Improved pay to workers will positively re inflate the economy. Only Nigerian workers pay tax 100 per cent deducted at source (PAYE).
“This means improved workers’ pay will definitely enhance the nation’s revenue. We join the Federal government to demand for Just tax system in which the rich must necessarily pay and pay more taxes to help in national development” Aremu explained.