Minimum Wage: PGF Warns NLC Against Continued Reliance On Strikes

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Director General of the Progressives Governors Forum, Dr. Salihu Lukman, on Sunday, cautioned the Nigeria Labour Congress against relying on blackmail and strikes in negotiating for a new minimum wage for workers.

He gave the advice in a paper titled, “True Federalism and Labour Issues,” made public in Abuja on Sunday.

Lukman noted that a centralised framework for minimum wage legislation which relies heavily on using federal financial capacity to fix a national minimum wage was not only unsustainable but would turn out to be counter productive in the long run.

He said, “Elementary analysis would caution about the consequence of continuing with a centralised framework for minimum wage legislation based on using the financial capacity of the Federal Government to fix national minimum wage that is hardly informed by economic indices of work output across the country and reflecting all sectors of the economy.

“Such a framework can only result in either shortchanging workers in high-revenue states/areas or over-stretching employers in low-revenue states/areas.

“Unfortunately, our union leaders have weakened themselves so much that their negotiating power is hardly oriented based on knowledgeable disposition about workers input in the production process at all levels in the country.

“The only weapon they seem to use so often to win concessions and agreements is strike. Blackmails and muscle flexing has become an important integral strategy to discredit perceived opponents. Name calling and campaigns by the NLC leadership aimed at blocking any consideration of proposals to change our harsh realities as a nation are now very common.

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“Today, we have a minimum wage of N30,000, which unions have been unable to achieve in many states and many private sector establishments. In fact, even at the time of negotiating the minimum wage of N30,000, there were problems of getting the old minimum wage of N18,000 in many states and private establishments implemented.

“Some of the states that were able to implement the minimum wage are barely surviving. Rather than objectively reviewing our challenges, our labour leaders imagined that name calling and threatening political leaders with strikes is the way to go. This is most unfortunate. NLC leadership may want to share the full picture of status of Implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, both in the public and private sectors, with Nigerians.”

The PGF DG further argued that while it was true that the nation is faced with the challenge of developing a framework for the review of the minimum wage which would be based on workers productivity as well as the cost of living, the mare fact that it takes up to five years for a review was an anomaly.

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