Resolution Of The New Minimum Wage Impasse And Need For  Commitment From Governments, Companies And Workers

By Enideneze Etete

The mother of all strikes, recently plotted by Nigerian workers, largely under the aegis of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), to get a new minimum wage, was luckily put off.

The suspension of the strike action, was the fall out of the last minutes peace deal among stakeholders.

If not for the truce and understanding of the tripartite negotiating partners, the negative effects of the botched strike, would have caused direct financial hardships on households, most of whose breadwinners wouldn't have even received salaries to stock food stuff as was directed by the labour leaders.

The entire economy too, would have been affected, as business activities would have been held down. That would have surely, deprived government and private business organisations of huge revenues.

The security situation in parts of the country would have also being threatened, as criminal elements could have taken advantage to unleash more havoc on innocent citizens.

Citizens that are already displaced by terrorists acts and the floods that ravaged twelve States, would have had worst times in their camps and personal residents, if the strike had taken place.

Politically too, the strike would have given opportunity for political opportunists to pontificate and tense up the political atmosphere, the more.

Against these lines of thoughts, Labour's acceptance of the truce, and government's efforts in playing a fatherly role to reach amicable resolution that averted the avoidable strike, is commendable.

While the peace deal lasts, and as the promise of a new minimum wage is expected to be fulfilled by governments at all levels and private companies, it is important to erase sentiments, stereotypes and misconceptions that usually envelop agitations for new wage for the Nigerian worker.

It is understandable that a new minimum wage has some negative effects, particularly increase in prices of goods and services in the market.

But the speculated increase in prices of goods, seem to have become a kind of stereotype or propaganda-based argument usually staged against demand for wage increase.

Though a realistic economic argument, let's consider that the inflation and high prices of goods/services, have being on for a long time now, even without salary increase. Inflation is not caused by workers, else they should never be deprived of new wage.

It should also be considered that during inflation, people with fixed income, like salary or wage, suffer most, unlike traders, artisans and others who earn flexible incomes, and also benefit from the increase in market prices. Creditors, for instance bank lenders also gain, as the value of the capital lent out reduces for the debtor, while interests increases for the lender due to inflation.

Let's not also forget that an increase in wage, will lead to an income multiplier effect in the national income accounting.

Again, the civil servants spend the stagnant minimum wage in the same economy/market with other income earners, amidst the extant inflation.

Also, current events tend to show that Western and traditional economic theories and principles might not always match realities on ground in Nigeria.

For example, inflation simply means too much money chasing too few goods, but there is hardly too much money in circulation or at citizens' disposal in Nigeria, even as it is true that goods are few, thus prices are high.

In another instance, recession, has ended officially, and by the logic of economics, but there is still recession in our pockets and kitchens, because other factors that should make the economy viable, examples, technology, capital, industrialization, true federalism, multiple products economy etc, are still not fully tapped. More so, the long term effects of recession take long time to ebb away.

Therefore, the civil servant, particularly, deserve a pay rise. The civil servant should thus be given a new wage, and let him or her spend it in the inflationary economy, with or without value for the salary. And let it so be, for the civil servant.

This is more so, considering that it is worst to have stagnated salary in an economy that is usually in inflation.

Worst of all workers' use part of their salary and other personal funds and facilities to facilitate work in work places, as overheads and imprests are rare or no longer given to many government institutions.

The irregular or inadequate overheads and imprests is usually attributed to lack of adequate funds and the need to curb financial wastages in public offices, but at the expense of motivation and effective service delivery.

The pay rise now and periodically, is a necessity. Therefore the Federal Government, private companies, and especially, state governors should patriotically pay the new wage when approved.

Governors not keen about paying the wage of N30,000.00, if formally approved, should know that government and the states are public institutions which will not be occupied for ever by any person.

So, they should not preemptively cry over inability to pay as if the burden will be their personal burden. What about the various loan burdens, some of them will bequeath to their successors? Have they thought of the long term impact, as do about new wage, let alone, clearing them before their tenures expire?

Governors ought to think out of the box, to generate revenues instead of depending on dwindling federal monetary allocations. If federal laws are expropriating rights of their states, they ought to lobby for constitutional amendments, to freely explore resources in their domains.

Anything less than these, would rather constitute lack of patriotism and interest in the welfare of the citizens.

State and local governments, should instead turn the goldmines lying fallow in lands to revenue spinners. They could enlist people with managerial acumen to do so in order to generate more revenues for the wellbeing of the people.

To he or she whom much is given, much is also expected. Therefore, even though the N30,000.00 minimum wage might not be a living wage, workers should try to reciprocate their employer's gestures, by improving productivity and service delivery.