“I’m of the opinion that government and organized labour should look for ways to increase production, so that if one has N1000 naira, it will have value.”
It is better for workers to resolve the matter without going on strike because if they do, Nigerians will suffer and the federal government will as usual, promise to pay, and at the end, they will not fulfill their promise. But then, if they embark on the strike, everything will scatter again. So, I suggest that the federal government and NLC should sit down and discuss to avoid the strike, though it is understandable that workers are not enjoying as expected. However, even if the government can’t pay the N30, 000 minimum wage, they can devise another package to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerian workers, considering the high rate of goods and services. Besides, if the minimum wage is increased to N30, 000, it could likely lead to inflation. I am not saying that it is not good to increase workers salary, but when more money is released into the economy, more people will have more money to spend on things, which will lead to increase in cost of living. The issue is beyond just sitting down and increasing, there should be a complete 360 degrees package that will favour the labour, the government, the buyers, sellers and the entire society. If they do not want to increase, they should find a way to reduce the challenges they are facing, either by subsidizing some things for them. Moreover, if both parties will have listening ears they should resolve the matter amicably, that will be the best option instead of strike.
MAYOR JOHN ECHEFU
In fact, I pity the Nigerian workers because the minimum wage being paid to them is nothing to write about. So, I think their complaints are genuine, especially when you place their wages side by side the lawmakers, elected and appointed political office holders. No economy survives under the jumbo salaries earned by our politicians, and this is the more reason we should restructure the country and begin to operate true federalism. Under this arrangement, no federating unit would allow these crazy salaries, perquisite political office holders. Elementary economics teaches us that an increase in wages, without a corresponding increase in production leads to spiral inflation.
So, I am of the opinion that the government and organized labour should look for ways to increase production, so that if one has one thousand naira, it will have value. However, I am not advising the workers to embark on strike rather, they should reconsider their position, as the strike will not lead Nigeria anywhere. Otherwise, in the fullness of time, it will worsen an already bad situation Nigerians are already into.
I believe that the government has the resources to take good care of the workers. An average Nigerian worker finds it difficult to survive with the N18, 000 because it is too small. Taxation also takes more chunks of the minimum wage. For me, the amount in question is not too much for them to pay. It is appalling to hear about the millions and billions of naira being shared at the top by our leaders and representatives, yet the common Nigerian worker cannot receive N30, 000 as a minimum wage. That is very bad for our country. We hear that the recovered loots are already in the country. Then what are they doing with it? They should take good care of the masses with the money and not allow it lie fallow in the banks, without yielding any returns. Obviously, if the money is being used to pay workers, it will go round and make Nigerians have better living. And, if the government should check the pros and cons of paying all those working for them to avoid excesses, it will be better. With the new wage, they can pay rent, feed, cater for their families and do other things. Failure to do that, I think NLC should go ahead with their strike, as that is the only language the government understands.
I do not think, there is need for the NLC to embark on any strike for now. This is because it will add salt to the already existing injuries Nigerians are nursing. The masses will suffer and it will paralyze business activities. Also, strike action will bring hitches here and there. We have seen in the past where strikes were embarked and people suffered a lot as a result of hike on transport fare, hunger, increase in price of essential commodities etc, at the end, NLC leaders compromised without achieving their aim, probably after being cornered. Obviously, the workers deserve better packages based on their contributions to economy of the Country. Unfortunately, the federal government is unable to pay the current N18, 000 minimum wage, not to talk of the new N30, 000. So, I think that NLC efforts may likely be in futile. Moreover, Nigeria has a lot to cater for the citizens, but is unable to live up to expectations. In a nutshell, the federal government should dialogue with the workers and come out with a genuine and realizable agreement before the November 6 ultimatum given by the NLC to avoid putting the country into more serious challenges.
The issue of whether the NLC going on strike is justified, is an objective thing. Though the federal government has pushed the NLC too far, but the idea of asking for salary increase at every slightest discomfort is not proper. Also, the idea of using strike to press the government to pay salaries is gradually becoming outdated. The NLC should borrow a leaf from advance countries on how to solve such issues other than strike. At the end, it will not be only the government, their primary target, that will be affected, but the entire Nigerians. At the end, it will be an ill wind that will do no one any good. So, it is neither the NLC nor federal government that is out rightly justified on the issue. Rather, each has its own portion of the blame. So, they should come together to look for a better way to settle the matter for the interest of Nigerians.
You see, the NLC we used to know was masses oriented, but now, they have lost relevance because people no longer take them serious. It is not as if N30, 000 minimum wage is much, it supposed to be N50, 000. Fuel was increased and they did not go on strike, rather, they just murmured and continued work. In fact if not that they have sold out in the time past, Nigerian workers supposed to go home with the sum of N50, 000 minimum wage. As it is, the federal government is no longer jittered by their threats. Why did they call of the last strike they embarked on? What was their agreement with the federal government before calling the strike off? Unfortunately, they no longer have a bite. And, it seems there is no seriousness in them. That is why they have not been able to achieve their aims like as it was in the past when the NLC was so vibrant and strong. Then, the fear of NLC was the beginning of wisdom. Nigerian workers no long have trust in them. NLC dealt with so many companies for not treating their workers well? But is not so this time. Many are seeing their demand as selfish because at end, they could be cornered after being bribed by the authority, if they are really serious. I am of the view that they need to ask for their rights through the strike action.
MUTIU OLAKUNLE ALIMI
NLC should explore all available legitimate means in actualizing their demand of N30, 000 minimum wage from the Federal Government. Going on strike should be the last option they should adopt. Whether or not it happens on November 6. Besides, I definitely support increase in the minimum wage for workers, considering the reality of the economic situation of the country and outrageous, unjustifiable salaries and allowances earn by our politicians in public offices.
Federal government should make dialogue with the Nigerian workers because they are passing a lot of hardship. With the present situation of things in the country, the amount being paid to them is not enough to cope. So, they should be considered to ensure that the strike did not hold as scheduled. The country needs peace and stability and anything that will discourage them should be controlled.