Atiku’s N33,000 min­i­mum wage of­fer, po­lit­i­cal gim­mick — Ac­tivists

The Punch - - NEWS -

A labour lawyer and hu­man rights ac­tivist, mr Femi Aborisade, has de­scribed the of­fer by vi­cepres­i­dent Atiku Abubakar to pay n33,000 min­i­mum wage to the peo­ple work­ing in his com­pa­nies as a mere po­lit­i­cal gim­mick.

In an in­ter­view with our cor­re­spon­dent on Satur­day, Aborisade chal­lenged Atiku to pay at least n60,000 min­i­mum wage if he wanted to im­press nige­ri­ans.

Also speak­ing, a Se­nior Ad­vo­cate of nige­ria, Chief emeka ngige, said there was no big deal in Atiku’s n33,000 of­fer as many peo­ple in the pri­vate sec­tor were pay­ing their work­ers far more.

This was just as an ac­tivist lawyer, mr malachy Ug­wum­madu, warned the for­mer vice-pres­i­dent against triv­i­al­is­ing the ag­i­ta­tion of the nige­rian work­ers by at­tempt­ing to make po­lit­i­cal gains out of it.

Aborisade, ar­gued that for any­one to im­press nige­rian work­ers such must be ready to re­view min­i­mum wage in line with the rate of in­fla­tion.

He said, “min­i­mum wage sim­ply means wage in­dex­a­tion; in other words, wages should rise as in­fla­tion or the cost of liv­ing rises. There­fore, if the for­mer vice Pres­i­dent would want to im­press nige­ri­ans as be­ing a good em­ployer, he ought to have been in­creas­ing the wages and salaries of the peo­ple work­ing for him as in­fla­tion rises; he ought not to have waited un­til labour had to ag­i­tate be­fore an­nounc­ing that he would be pay­ing n33,000 min­i­mum wage.

“It is noth­ing to cel­e­brate be­cause the min­i­mum wage ought to have risen far above the fig­ure of N30,000 agreed to by the tri­par­tite com­mit­tee. In ac­tu­ally fact, labour was orig­i­nally ag­i­tat­ing for over n60,000 as min­i­mum wage.

“So, if the for­mer vice Pres­i­dent wants to im­press nige­ri­ans that he will per­son­ally be a good em­ployer of labour or that gov­ern­ment un­der him, if he wins, will be a good em­ployer of labour, the min­i­mum wage to­day ought not to be less than what the Trade Union Con­gress and the nige­ria Labour Con­gress were orig­i­nally ag­i­tat­ing for, which is above n60,000. I am not im­pressed with the n33,000.”

De­scrib­ing Atiku’s of­fer as a po­lit­i­cal gim­mick, Ug­wum­madu said he re­called that the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party had ear­lier promised to fix Nige­ria’s elec­tric­ity prob­lem in six months if voted to power.

He added, “The strug­gle by labour and the nige­rian peo­ple for a liv­ing wage should not be triv­i­alised. It is by far more se­ri­ous than what some­one can make a po­lit­i­cal gain out of. So, if Atiku says he will pay n33,000 min­i­mum wage, how does that ad­dress the ag­i­ta­tion for the min­i­mum wage regime? It merely speaks to the po­lit­i­cal an­tics which mr Atiku and his co-trav­ellers are will­ing to sub­ject ev­ery dis­cus­sion in the coun­try to. And in my view, it triv­i­alises the enor­mity of the sit­u­a­tion on the ground.

“If Atiku says he will pay n33,000 even I, with my lim­ited re­sources, pay none of my work­ers less than n50,000.”

on his part, ngige said, “I will say it’s all pol­i­tics be­cause there are peo­ple in the pri­vate sec­tor who pay more than n33,000 as min­i­mum wage to their work­ers. So, it is not a big deal.

“The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment on its own part, I don’t think it has any prob­lem pay­ing work­ers n30,000 as min­i­mum wage. The prob­lem they (agen­cies) have is with the state gov­er­nors who may not be able to pay the same amount. “So, what Al­haji Atiku has of­fered to pay work­ers is not a big deal, in my own view. We have many peo­ple in the pri­vate sec­tor pay­ing more than n33,000 to their work­ers.”

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