As the crisis over minimum wage continues, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said that a new minimum wage will boost the country’s economy rather than trigger inflation.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, the President of NLC, explained in Asaba, Delta state where he was as a Special Guest at the 6th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of the National Union of Hotels and Personal Services Workers. He said that the assertion that an increase in workers’ salary would lead to inflation was not true.
There was no empirical reason that an upward review of minimum wage would trigger inflation in the country. “This is because when the minimum wage was increased in 2011, in fact, the inflation rates went down. Go and look at the records and the data, it would rather boost the economy because it would increase the people’s disposable income.
“You remember that in the midst of recession in the U.S., one of the strategies President Barrack Obama used to boost the economy of the country was to increase the minimum wage.
“This, because as at that time, production was going on; people didn’t have money to purchase and what he (Obama) did was to increase the minimum wage and there was money; General Motors started to produce and people were able to buy,” he said.
Wabba added that the World Bank’s recent report has proven that when there were money in the hands of many poverty would be addressed. “Therefore, in the context of Nigeria, it is very clear and proven that once you are able to remove many of our people out of poverty, their will be a boost in our economy.
“This is because those at the lower echelon that are receiving N18,000 cannot afford good meals, that is the reality and truth.”
He, however, blamed the challenges being faced by the people on high cost of governance in the country. “On cost of governance, if you remember, the first engagement NLC had in 2016 was a national rally for good governance and the fight against corruption.
“Minimum wage has international dimension, and that is why it is a convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO convention 131 is the law about minimum wage and that is why even in the most capitalist economy, you have the minimum wage law.
“Minimum wage is to protect the vulnerable group from exploitation, because if you have the minimum wage, you can pay higher but you are not allowed to pay below. There are lots of evidence-based approach to look at the positive side of the minimum wage increase in Nigeria.
He explained that the labour has put the government on notice that workers would go on strike beginning from Nov. 6 if nothing was done about the minimum wage., we shall declare a nationwide strike,” Wabba said.