•Calls for review, dialogue with Labour
The Organized Private Sector (OPS) has demanded for upward review of the current N30,000 minimum wage for workers in 2022. It said the current economic outlook amidst rising inflation rate, continued devaluation of Naira and other macroeconomic challenges have undermined its sustainability any longer.
Similarly, the OPS lambasted state Governors that are still engaging in paying its workers N18,000 minimum wage as living in the past, punishing Nigerian workers unjustly without having human feelings. In addition, the private sector group noted that Nigeria’s minimum wage of N30,000 ($78.29) is about the lowest in the Emerging Market and Developing Countries (EMDCs) and does not encourage consumption in concomitant with the current economic reality in all ramifications.
Speaking with Sunday Telegraph in an interview, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Eke Ubiji, said that there is no doubt these are hard times for Nigerian workers as the headline inflation rate and continued devaluation of Naira have eroded the current minimum wage of N30,000 agreed by the federal and states governments with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in 2019.
He said it urgently needs a review or cushion measures for workers to live comfortably in this current economic situation in Nigeria. He said that government should make Nigerian workers happy in the New Year by increasing their wages as New Year gifts. Ubiji said: “Yes, there is need to review it because it’s unrealistic to continue paying workers N30,000 as minimum wage now and in that review, a lot of factors will be put into considerations. “For instance, what can be done economically to cushion the effects if federal and state governments don’t want to review it?
“We are not even talking about the N18,000 minimum wage that some of these states governors are still paying their workers but those of them paying N30,000, you can see that the money has been rendered useless nowadays. “Look at the inflation rate and the devaluation of the Naira. So, how much does the Nigerian worker wants to spend and live comfortably under this austerity economic period with just N30,000 a month? It is not possible!”
The NASME executive secretary added, “Can you see what the CBN just did on the stoppage of forex to the Bureau De Change (BDC) operators and given it to the commercial banks? See the way costs of goods in the market are increasing on a daily basis and if you ask them, they will say it is forex.
Can you imagine, a spare part you are buying for N1,000 before is now N5,000, all in the name of forex and naira devaluation? So, what will N30,000 monthly take home do for a worker under this economic dispensation?
So, to me, that salary increment that was done in 2019 has been rendered useless by inflation rate and devaluation of Naira. What can you use N30,000 to do in a month at N1,000 per day?,” Ubiji rhetorically queried.
While speaking on cost of food items, he stated: “Let’s even go to the commonest thing; buying of foodstuffs to eat. A bean seller was telling me that a Derica cup of beans she used to sell for N150 is now N1000.
That is about 600 per cent increase. And again, how many people can afford it under N30,000 minimum wage?” “So what government needs to do in this New Year is to review the N30,000 minimum wage this year 2022 by making Nigerian workers happy in the New Year as New Year gifts to them,” he added.
While reacting to the state governments still paying N18,000 as minimum wage to their workers, Ubiji said: “Those people (governors) are not serious.
They should try and factor in the N30,000 monthly salary payment for their workers into their annual budgets and work hard to sustain it via their Internal Generated Revenues (IGRs) and FAAC allocation because they get security allowances and Estacode which they allocated for themselves.
So, things are very difficult for everyone now and these governors must do the needful.”