Workers to push for N48,000 minimum wage

By The Citizen

Labour said it would soon submit a proposal demanding a new minimum wage of N48,000 based on the impact of the global economic downturn on wages.

The General Secretary, National Union of Garment and Textile Workers (NUGTW), Comrade Issa Aremu, advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to bow to pressures to further devalue the national currency because the last devaluation eroded the value of the minimum wage.

'The last time we signed the minimum wage, which is N18,000, which is the current rate, and this was between 2009 and 2010, this translated to $124. But now on account of depreciation alone, this $124 has dropped to less than $60. So wages have been completely eroded on account of devaluation.

'In nominal terms, if we are talking just on account of the exchange rate, the minimum wage which is currently N18,000 should be about N48,000. And I am leaving this warning, if you dare devalue again, be sure that labour will also have to hike its own price in the market,' Aremu who was also the former Vice President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said.

Aremu also advised President Buhari to urgently revisit the report of the 2014 National Conference and implement the holistic recommendations for the power sector.

He said the Federal Government should not allow the electricity tariff increase to sail through because the generating and distribution companies were underperforming.

'The point cannot be overstated; power/energy is so strategic to the industrialisation and the well being of the people,'' Aremu said.

He also appealed to the Federal Government to review the privatisation contracts with the electricity generation companies (GenCos) and DisCos.

Aremu said the firms should be given a two- year time-frame to allow them stabilise and provide efficient power supply to Nigerians before they could contemplate any tariff increase.

He urged more transparency in future disposal of the nation's assets in the name of privatisation.

He said: 'The point cannot be overstated. Between 30 per cent and 35 per cent of textile and garment manufacturing costs are energy related expenses. Without electricity, there can be no industrialisation.

'The promise and expectation that President Buhari will revive textile industry generally is not possible without electricity,'' the labour leader said.

According to Aremu, it is time for the Buhari-led administration to critically review the power sector reform with a view to increasing public sector investment. The Nation