A new minimum wage of N66, 500 for all workers in the country has been proposed by the organized labour as against the current N18, 000 which it described as “grossly inadequate.”
They made their demand known on Thursday at the Public Hearing on National Minimum Wage for Nigerian workers, organised by the Tripartite Committee of the National Minimum Wage for Southwest Zone in Lagos.
The memoranda of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) were presented by Chairman, Political Committee, NLC Lagos Chapter, Agnes Sessi, who noted that the current wage structure could not sustain any worker at this “critical period in the nation’s history.”
According to her, the two labour centres had agreed that there was the urgent need to review upward the minimum wage to conform with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards on minimum wage fixing.
She submitted the two labour centres “demand for a new monthly national minimum wage of N66,500, which is approximately the average of the implied minimum wages derived under three approaches.”
She said the approaches are comparative analysis based on minimum wages in some African Countries, an estimate of the monthly minimum cost of basic needs to a family of six and two dependants while factoring in the rising cost of living over time.
Sessi added that the two labour centres wanted the minimum wage act to be amended to provide its review every five years or whenever there was a general wage review.
Also speaking, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Lagos branch, aligned with the NLC and TUC in demanding for N66,500 new minimum wage.
Spokesperson of the association, Comrade Akeem Kazeem, emphasised that the need for urgent upward review of the national minimum wage was long overdue because the current pay structure in the country had become “unrealistic and inadequate.”
“The sum of N18,000 which is currently being paid as the minimum salary in the civil service is grossly inadequate. An officer at that level will, however, require about N66,500 a month to survive,” he said.
Speaking, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said there was a consensus of opinion on the need for workers to be reasonably remunerated and compensated in line with current economic realities.
“The issue, however, which I believe is more peculiar to the public sector, is striking a balance between what goes into recurrent expenditure of which salaries and allowances is a major component and the ability of government to fulfill its obligations to the larger society.
“In this instance, the revenue profile of each state becomes a major determinant of what can reasonably be afforded in terms of wages, without jeopardising the ability of the government to fund social services that are critical to the well-being of the entire citizens,” he said.
Ambode, who was represented by the Head of Service, Folasade Adesoye stated that at N18,000 minimum wage, the state’s monthly wage bill was in excess of N10 billion for a workforce of 103,000, asides retirement benefits obligations.
He said while it was true that Lagos state generated the highest Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, it must also be recognized that due to the growing population, “we also shoulder the highest responsibility in terms of the resources that must be expended on social and physical infrastructure renewal and development.”