Politicisation of minimum wage

The brickbats that have dogged a new minimum wage, which had expired since 2016 would not have been necessary if labour had adopted offensive approach.

We think the labour movement has not been strategic enough. There are two reasons that influenced this line of thought.

The first one is the inability to deploy political tools to get government to signoff on a new minimum wage.

The second factor is the involvement of some labour activists in politics.

There were critical elections that took place within this period – the Ekiti and Osun elections. Incidentally, the two offered robust opportunities that labour failed to grab. The non-payment of workers’ salaries was prevalent in the two states. Also, the two states were governed by two different and the most dominant political parties in Nigeria. While Ekiti was governed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Osun was governed by the All Progressives Party (APC).

The labour movement would have used the occasion to campaign against non-payment of salaries (issue-based).

Labour24 is of the opinion that such ‘noise’ would have sent a strong signal to other state governments as well as the federal government that the labour movement would not tolerate non-payment of salaries.

Thus, the latest struggle to get the federal government send the N30,000 negotiated figure to the National Assembly for legislative process would not have been this tasking.

So, it would have been difficult for any politician to blame labour of partisanship.

Also, that serving labour leaders are neck-deep in active politics has divided their loyalty to the course of the working people.

Indeed, it is no longer a secret that the President of the Trade Union Congress (NLC), Bala Bobboi Kaigama, who is also a close ally of the President of another labour centre helped divide the loyalty of the trade movement in Nigeria by contesting for the governorship ticket of Taraba state under the ruling APC.

We hold that it is time for labour movement to openly threaten to work with the opposition parties in order to unsettle the ruling party to give in to labour’s demand.

Advantageously, the fiery former President of the NLC and now the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole has declared that his present position does not change his believe in the payment of a living wage to workers. His state, Edo state where he was governor for eight years has been paying N25,000 as the minimum wage since 2016. Therefore, labour has the backing of Oshiomhole for its struggle to ensure payment of a new minimum wage that is still some miles away from being a living wage.

We equally believe that getting a new minimum wage under the current government is not certain though it is a possibility that can be made possible under collaborative efforts of every Nigerians of good conscience.


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