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Home NEWS AND ANALYSIS MINIMUM WAGE STRUGGLE IN NIGERIA: HOW FAR, HOW WELL?

MINIMUM WAGE STRUGGLE IN NIGERIA: HOW FAR, HOW WELL?

Rashy, May 01, 2021.


INTRODUCTION

In April 2019, President Buhari assented to the new National minimum wage of N30,000, after eight years of no-increase from the ₦18,000 paid as minimum wage since 2011. This is despite the fact that, the National minimum wage ought to have been reviewed since 2016. This is in accordance with the provision that stipulates that minimum wage should be reviewed at least once every 5 years.

The approval of the new minimum wage of N30,000 was achieved not on a platter of gold, but through various mass strike actions of the Nigerian Working class and the poor. The Buhari-led APC regime made several attempt to divert and derail this legitimate struggle but was massively defeated by the concerted mass action of the Nigerian workers. But, two years after the approval, about 18 states of the federation are yet to implement the N30,000 minimum wage, despite the ceaseless attacks on the working class.

CONTINUOUS ATTACK ON THE WORKING CLASS AND THE POOR

There have been series of attack on the basic necessities of the working class and the poor. These have significantly taken toll on the N30,000 new minimum wage and rendered it almost useless. This started with a hike in Value Added Tax (VAT), which was increased from 5 percent to 7.5 percent effective as of February 1st 2020; followed almost immediately by the imposition of 6 percent stamp duty on tenancy and lease agreements for those renting houses. The increase in the price of fuel from N122 per litre in June 2020 to N142 per litre in July, to N150 per litre in August, and now to N165per litre. 

Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 17.33% in February 2021, from 16.47% recorded in the previous month. This represents the highest inflation rate recorded in four years. This is according to the latest inflation report published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The Nigerian Regulatory Commission (NERC), recently approved over 50% hike in electricity Tariff (Despite many people lacking power). The order is effective till June 2021 and is expected to go higher from June to December 2021.

Another recent attack on the national minimum wage is the proposal by the National Assembly to move the National Minimum wage from the legislative list to the concurrent list, under the pretest of the differences in the revenues accruing to the states of the federation. It is instructive to state that, this pretest is mostly cited when it concerns the worker’s welfare. Political office holders all enjoy outrageous salaries and emoluments regardless of the revenue accruing to the state. This must be vehemently resisted, not as one – off protest as was done by the Nigerian workers on March 10 but as the beginning of the struggle for the full implementation of a living wage that is commensurate with the rate of inflation.

WAY FORWARD

The working class needs to force its reluctant leadership to fight and defend what has already been achieved as regards the minimum wage. We should realize that even the approved N30,000 is far from being a living wage, considering the rate of inflation and the difficulty to survive currently.

With the power and the numerical size of the working class, we have all what it takes to boot out the current ruinous elite and take power into our hands. It is only with working class in power that we can start to fundamentally change our situation positively. The only major obstacle towards achieving this is the compromising leadership at the head of central union, the most pressing task therefore, is the transformation of our leadership into a fighting and responsible leadership.

“it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an overriding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.”

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