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