Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Labour Must also Fight for Settlement of Unpaid Salaries and Pension

By Segun Sango
National Chairperson, SPN

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) welcomes the recent decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to demand the new national minimum wage of N56, 000. We hold that this is long overdue. The rising cost of living and inflation have eroded the earnings of workers and the masses. Besides, the fact that the current N18, 000 Minimum Wage has been largely rendered worthless, it is statutorily due for upward review since 2015. This is why we always call on labour to demand and fight for periodic increases in wages to match the rate of inflation. Despite the fact that the current wage is very low, governments at all levels have refused to fully implement this poverty minimum wage of N18, 000 for the past 5 years. To compound the economic problems of workers, most state and local governments owe workers backlog of salaries.

To add insult to injury, political office holders are earning jumbo allowances and salaries such that about N18, 000 political office holders earn jumbo allowances and salaries of about N1.3 trillion – more than the federal budget allocated to education, health, agriculture, power, housing and works put together. For instance, some former state governors who are currently in the National Assembly and serving Ministers are earning two jumbo salaries and allowances.

Labour must also demand the reduction of the outrageous earnings of political office holders to the average wage of skilled workers and the savings derived should be invested in basic infrastructure to create more jobs. Labour should also demand that public books and financial records should be open to scrutiny and probe by elected representatives of the working people to ascertain how public funds have been managed.

However, the leadership of the NLC and TUC must note that without struggles they cannot win the demand for N56, 000 minimum wage. Trade unionists must learn from what happened the last time the minimum wage was reviewed. Back in December 2010 both the NLC and TUC demanded a N52, 200 minimum wage, but then a few months later they accepted Goodluck Jonathan’s N18, 000. This must not happen again with labour’s new demand for N56, 000.