N24,000 OR N30,000 Minimum Wage? 7 Huddles Labour Must Quickly Cross
Should the labour unions really celebrate? Have they gotten the 30,000 Naira new Minimum Wage?
A report was drawn up yesterday and it will now be deliberated on by government officials to choose the exact amount that workers will get.
Everyone appeared content after the meeting on Monday, but what Nigerians may not know is that there is a range of 24,000 Naira and 30,000 Naira that a committee will have to look at to decide on the final amount.
No one knows what the figure will be at last.
The news filtered in at night that the planned strike has been called off and it made some people sad.
Some wondered why the strike was called off when they did not have the amount they were requesting for crested in stone. All they had was an assurance that their demand would be looked into.
Others, especially our people in Lagos, are sad because they had prepared to sleep beyond 4:00 a.m. and had thought it would be for a long time.
They needed to escape the stress they go through everyday, but that desire is now a story for another day.
Ehen! Back to the matter. Even though a few documents may have been signed to back up this agreement, it is not Uhuru and the labour unions know better.
This is why the labour unions' representatives after the agreement directed Presidents and Secretaries of affiliate unions to mobilise members and be on standby in case any further directives on the implementations of the agreed amount - anything between 24,000 Naira and 30,000 Naira.
The Ayuba Waba-led team may have raised their shoulders, telling themselves: “Good Job”, but the road is still far.
In a statement after they secured the 24,000 Naira to 30,000 Naira minimum wage range assurance, the spokesman for the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson in Abuja, said that the report of the Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee would be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari by 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
They want to begin early like the cripple who gets an inclination that war is coming and decides to begin his escape earlier than those who can run.
But that is where the huddle race begins for the labour unions.
1. More Talks
The labour unions have left the final decision in the hands of the government who would now have to discuss with governors present to be sure that they would agree to leave their comfort zone of 22,500 Naira and come up higher.
No one truly knows if the governors will be willing to dance to the tune that the presidency would play, targeted at averting a strike that could cripple the fragile economy of the nation or affect the president's bid for a second term in office.
That deliberation may take time.
2. Forwarding Bill To National Assembly
Before this document from the deliberation of Monday will transform to alert in bank accounts of workers, reflecting the new wage, President Buhari will have to put it together as an Executive Bill that will be forwarded to the National Assembly for perusal and deliberations.
No one can tell how long it will take
3. National Assembly Deliberations Huddle
The National Assembly is not made up of people that are of one political party or people with one interest.
It is made up of people representing different constituencies and districts in Nigeria and sometimes you find these lawmakers display their loyalty to the 'powers that be' in their states.
Each bill often time passes first and second reading and then is approved after a third reading and this rarely happens in one week.
The National Assembly will need time to look at the bill through its committees and be sure that it is a realistic feat.
In August, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said the National Assembly was waiting for the Executive to forward the new Minimum Wage bill for deliberation at a time that the labour unions were requesting for 56,000 Naira as minimum wage.
But the leader of the National Assembly said that when he was in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and now that he has moved to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), his opinion about the new minimum wage may have changed.
4. State House Of Assembly’s Approval
After the National Assembly passes the bill, it will have to forward it to the states for deliberations and that is also expected to take time.
At this point, there may be a clog waiting.
In Nigeria, most lawmakers in the states dance to the tune played by the Governor, or the party ruling the state.
This situation will further affect the acceptance of the new range that will surely be above the 22,500 Naira that most state governors said they could pay.
Remember that some states are owing salaries while some pay only a certain percent of workers wages.
Nigeria’s crude oil production has not increased significantly for more revenue to come from crude sales. Where will the money that will cater for this increase come from?
Monies shared from crude sales are largely what most states depend on for revenue, as most of the governors have closed their eyes to improving infrastructure in the state to improve Internally Generated Revenue.
In fact, some states do not even believe that they have anything they can explore to generate more revenue.
The governors appear to be the lazy youths that President Buhari had described in that infamous speech.
5. Huddle Of Political Interest
Recently, some governors of the ruling APC have expressed displeasure with the way things have been handled in their party.
Some Emperors that wanted their puppets as their successors have failed to get it, with the powers that be preferring more open loyalists.
Others whose second tenor had ended, but had interest in transcending to the National Assembly as Senators, have also failed to get their slots.
This fallout with the chieftains of their party has resulted in several meetings with President Buhari and the aggrieved groups are angry.
These Governors may seat on the lawmakers in their states who are usually their allies to insist that the states do not have the muscle to shoulder the new financial burden.
6. The Huddle Race Against Time
Going by the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission, one will be tempted to say that the agreement to pay anything between 24,000 Naira and 30,000 Naira is like a bone that a man says he wants to give to his dog to eat and hangs it on the dog's neck.
In the middle of December, political campaigns will kick off ahead of the general election that is just 101 days away.
The labour unions have just one month and barely two weeks for the exact amount to be agreed and a bill forwarded to the National Assembly for onward deliberations.
7. Economic Reality Huddle
After the governors said they could pay 22,500 Naira, Bounce News had a chat with an economist, Dr. Boniface Chizea, about the reality on ground and the ability of states to pay the money and he highlighted these things.
a) There is obvious inability of governors to pay the current minimum wage and what assurance does the labour unions have that they can pay the new amount.
b) The inflation that a 30,000 Naira wage could trigger
c) How impossible it is to cut down on cost of governance to see more money to pay salaries. You cannot shut one tap and open the other abruptly, he says.
d) The difficulty in getting the lawmakers to adjust their salaries as many have requested. They are the ones that make the laws and may lack the political will to adjust their remuneration.
Dr. Chizea says the nation will need to look beyond crude oil and increase productivity that will match the increment for the economy to remain stable without inflation rising as a result of the wage increase.
This explanation may just mean that if the workers get 30,000 Naira which is unlikely, the 12,000 Naira added to the 18,000 Naira minimum wage may be swallowed by inflation in no time.
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