It is Workers’ Day on Monday, May 1, and some labour leaders have said that their demand for a review of their minimum wage must be made a priority.

They said in Lagos on Friday that the continuous delay in discussing and recommending payment of a new minimum wage would not augur well for industrial harmony.

Till date, the prevailing minimum wage of workers in Nigeria is 18,000 Naira which is just about the cost of a bag of rice. The last time the salary was reviewed was in 2011.

The Secretary General, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Mr Bashir Lawal, told NAN that reaching a quick agreement on the issue was paramount.

“The delay, apart from worsening the economic well-being of Nigerians, particularly the workers, industrial peace and harmony cannot be guaranteed,” he said.

According to him, there is no doubt that workers are going through economic difficulties but expressed optimism that they would rejoice whenever discussions on the minimum wage were concluded.

“There is no gain saying the fact that workers are going through very difficult times. We have made representations severally to the government on this issue.

“We are hopeful that something positive will happen to our Take-Home-Pay, as soon as the Minimum Wage Negotiating Committee concludes its assignment,” he said.

Compensation

President, National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE), Mr Lateef Oyelekan, also called for the hastening of discussions.

According to Lateef, a review of the wage will serve as compensation to workers who have prayed ceaselessly for the quick recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Many Nigerian workers prayed for the President when he was indisposed. Now that he is back, we are hopeful that he will consider their plight,” he said.

Oyelekan also suggested that state governments be pressurized to pay any amount that would be agreed on.

He said it was regrettable that almost a year after bailout funds were released, some of the states still owed workers salary arrears of six to 10 months.

“Today, a worker with four children can no longer send them to school, feed and cater for the family needs because his or her income (N18,000) is inadequate,” he said.

Oyelekan however commended the Federal Government for releasing Foreign Exchange to boost production, adding that many companies were already going comatose because of lack of forex.

A former National Vice President of the NLC, Issa Aremu, once said in an interview that too many years have passed since salaries were reviewed and 18,000 Naira is no longer realistic for today’s economic realities.