Joe Ajaero

36 governors’ claim of not being able to afford N60,000 minimum wage sign of wickedness – Organised labour knocks

The organised labour on Saturday knocked the 36 governors of the federation for declaring that they couldn’t afford N60,000 minimum wage.

The two labour leaders, comprising both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), described the governors’ comment and actions towards the Nigerian workers as wickedness while calling on them to have a rethink before “danger ahead explodes”.

The Informant247 reports that the 36 state governors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Friday rejected the N60,000 minimum wage earlier proposed by the federal government.

Hajiya Halimah Salihu Ahmed, the Director Media and Public Affairs of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), disclosed this in a statement on Friday.

However, the organised labour, while reacting to the governors’ action, through the Head of Information and Public Affairs at the NLC headquarters, Benson Upah, wondered why governors forget that the price of fuel, dollar against Naira, among other things, have gone up astronomically.

He said, “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 be issued to the world in the middle of an ongoing negotiation. It is certainly in bad taste,” Upah said in a statement.

Speaking on the governors’ claim, the two labour centres said nothing could be further from the truth that FAAC allocations have since moved from “N700 billion to N1.2 trillion, making the governments extremely rich at the expense of the people.”

According to them, “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 thereabout) 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 rose by more than 400% as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy.

“This is an extreme bad news for the poor. The 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 the 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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