The Nigeria Labour Congress has said that its proposal to the Federal Government increase the National Minimum Wage from N18,000 Minimum Wage to N56,000 was appropriate in view of the current economic realities especially the high rate of inflation in the country.
A Deputy President of the NLC, Mr. Peters Adeyemi, said during a pre- May Day press conference in Abuja on Friday that the N18000 Minimum Wage was approved when the Naira was exchanging at N145 to the Dollar.
He noted that the Naira had been marked by over 100 percent depreciation in value as it was now exchanging N321 to the Dollar at the parallel market.
Adeyemi said that it was important to increase the Minimum Wage because what the Naira could buy five years ago had reduced by more than a half.
He said that while the prices of goods and services were increasing, the salaries of workers had remained static.
He said, “If you ask me how justified is the N56,000 wage increase inspite of the economic crisis, my answer would be yes, it is highly justified.
“First do not forget that the Naira itself has collapsed beyond the expectation of every Nigerian; I recall when we negotiated the N18,000 minimum wage, the exchange rate then was about N145 to a dollar.
“As of this morning, its about N321 to a Dollar, I heard its a bit stable now at N321, but if you do arithmetical calculations, it shows it is more than one hundred percent poor, in whatever way you want to look at it.
“What that means in effect is that the N18,000 itself has gone down beyond one hundred percent from the time it was negotiated. By implication, what N18,000 could buy as at when it was approved has reduced significantly beyond more than half. It would not be fair to say that we must continue to insist that N18,000 should be what is payable.
“Talking about the inflationary trend, if you look at the values associated with it, even the unlawful increase in electricity tariff, you will find that there has been tremendous increase in the prices of goods and services and salaries of workers have remained stagnant.”
He said that the workers earning a minimum wage of N18,000 were being made to buy fuel at N250 per litre in the black market.
Adeyemi argued that the fact that some state governments refused to pay workers salary should not be taken to mean that the workers would not ask for a new minimum wage.
He said that readiness or refusal of states to pay salaries was dependent on the priority of the states and prudent management of funds.
He said that the NLC and the TUC were still working on the planned one day industrial action to protest the 45 percent increase in the electricity tariff.
He says that this year’s MAY DAY would be celebrated with the team “the Working Class and the Quest for Socio-Economic Revival.”