Miserable Minimum Wage Grave Danger To Workers, Economy, NLC Warns Govs

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has warned state governments to be careful what they wish for, as a miserable national minimum wage would portend grave danger to the economy of most states which were driven by workers’ wages....Read The Full Story Here ▶

The warning was contained in a statement signed by NLC’s Head of Information and Public Affairs, Benson Upah on Saturday, in response to comments from the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) stating that states may have to borrow, exhaust their Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocations in order to pay workers salaries every month.

The statement entitled “Save the Country from a Certain Death,” reminded the state Governors that the exchange rate was currently at N1,600 to $1 while inflation hovers at 33.7% (40% for food), thus putting the value of the minimum wage at $37.5 for a family of six.

While noting that prices of goods and services have increased by 400% to the detriment of the poor occasioned by the government’s harsh policy decisions, labour added that FAAC allocations have since moved from N700 billion to N1.2 trillion at the expense of the people.

The statement reads in full: “We are alarmed by the statement credited to the Nigeria Governors Forum that state governments cannot even afford to pay N60,000 as minimum wage as a few states will end up borrowing to pay workers every month.

“We do believe the Governors have acted in bad faith. It is unheard of for such a statement to be issued to the world in the middle of an on-going negotiation. It is certainly in bad taste.

“As for the veracity of their claim, nothing can be further from the truth as FAAC allocations have since moved from N700 billion to N1.2 trillion. making the governments extremely rich at the expense of the people.

“All that the governors need to do to be able to pay a reasonable national minimum wage (not even the N60,000) is cut on the high cost of governance, minimise corruption as well as prioritise the welfare of workers.

“It is important to explain here that a national minimum wage is not synonymous with the different pay structures of different states. The national minimum wage is the lowest floor below which no employer is allowed to pay. The aim is to protect the weak and the poor.

“We are not fixated with figures but value. Those who argue that moving the national minimum wage from N30,000 to N60,000 is sufficiently good enough miss the point.

In 2019, when N30,000 became the minimum, N300 exchanged for $1 (effectively making the minimum wage an equivalent of $100 or thereabouts) while the inflation rate was 11.40.

*At the moment the exchange rate is at N1,600 to $1 while inflation hovers at 33.7% (40% for food). This puts the value of the minimum wage at $37.5 for a family of six. This is happening at a time costs of everything have risen by more than 400% as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy. This is an extreme bad news for the poor.

“Government’s policies of fuel subsidy removal, mindless devaluation of the Naira, energy tariff hike by 250% and interest rate hike by 26.5% will continue to hurt the economy (especially manufacturing sector) and the poor.

“Already manifest is the mass incapacity of Nigerians leading to overflowing warehouses of the productive sector of the economy. The downward trend will continue except the capacity of workers and businesses is enhanced.

“Paying a miserable national minimum wage portends grave danger to not only the workforce but the national economy as in truth, economies of most states are driven by workers’ wages.

“In light of this, we urge the governors to do a re-think and save the country from a certain death.”

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