Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Lagos State Workers And The New 15% Pay Rise

Lagos State Workers And The New 15% Pay Rise

(By Dagga Tolar)

The murmur of Lagos State workers in various workplaces, across the state, even at the state secretariat, Alausa, is increasingly getting louder. They also want to savour the gains of the recently concluded general strike and mass protest organized by LASCO (which is made up of the NLC, TUC and JAF), which saw the federal government agreeing to pay a 15% salary increase across the board to all workers from January 2007.

States after states, Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, etc, have given notices and embarked on strike actions that have either seen the state governments engaging in negotiation and agreeing to pay the 15%, with the least paid worker in these states earning nothing less than N9,000.00, across the board.

In the past, it used to be Lagos that would herald the commencement of such struggle, inspiring other states to follow suit. This was the case in 2000, when the Council of Industrial Union (COIU), then under the leadership of Ayodele Akele, led Lagos State workers out in a strike to demand for the then implementation of the new minimum wage of N7,500, approved by the Federal government for workers.

The struggle inevitably compelled the then Tinubu administration to pay an increase of N5,500 for level 1-7, and for 8 and above, a contraption popularly known as “oracle” was given to workers, which with time, turned out to be the poorest of salaries compared to some other states with less cost of living in Nigeria. This was the situation until the 2007 general elections when the state government unilaterally increased workers pay in order to persuade them to vote for the ruling party in the state. But even, this does not, in anyway, invalidate the need for a new increase to match that of federal workers who now earn above N11,000 as minimum and are now due for an additional 15% rise with backlog to be paid from January, 2007. And yet in Lagos, no one is sure as to what is the exact figure of the minimum wage, but what is certain is that it is far below the present federal minimum wage.

One of the workers spoken to by our correspondent said “Federal Government had had other increases since we had ours in 2000, with the 15%, we are still averaging a mere half of what they earn, and we go to the same market”. Another worker opines, “if political officers, from the president, governors, legislators, ministers and commissioner can earn as much as 300% increase in their wages, outside so many other allowances, that swells their total income, then, 15% for workers in Lagos is not too much, what is good enough for the goose is also good for the gander”.

Being a mega city and the former capital of the country, Lagos is the most expensive state with an unprecedentable, chaotic and arbitrary increase in goods and services, one cannot but agree and support the call for 15% pay rise for Lagos State workers across board.

The Olukoya Alogba led NLC in the state should therefore rise up to this challenge by commencing the necessary mobilization and putting the state government on notice for a 48 hrs general strike as a means of making the state government pay the increase, and standardize the salary structure of workers in the state. Anything short of this would amount to a betrayal of the interest and welfare of workers in Lagos State.