RECENTLY, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) jointly made a demand from the Federal Government on behalf of workers and pensioners in the country.
They asked that the minimum wage be increased to N56,000 per month, in line with the economic realities at the moment, as against the N18,000 per month currently being earned by the least paid Nigerian workers.
I quite agree that it is the inalienable right of the trade union leaders to make such a demand and mount pressure on the government to implement or grant it. Workers deserve to live decently.
Yet, certain aspects of the issue must not be overlooked or shoved aside. This means that certain things ought to be done before the implementation of a new minimum wage.
The first is that, as we all know, immediately the traders in the country sense or hear of impending increase in the salary of workers, the avaricious ones among them will hike the prices of their goods in such a way that it will render the increase in wages paltry or despicable. Others will then hoard their goods to make huge profits.
Be that as it may, to counter such an eventuality, what I feel the Federal Government should do is to reduce Customs duties on the goods coming into the country from other parts of the world.
Additionally, government should allow massive importation by interested importers or industrialists on the aforementioned basis.
This will be found expedient because if there is no means of hoarding the goods, there will be no opportunity for anyone to cause inflation.
- Ola-Olaniyi Bamigbola,
Ibadan, Oyo State.