Home Featured BEYOND THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE: There is need for Sustained Economic Growth*

BEYOND THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE: There is need for Sustained Economic Growth*

Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde

by DReporters
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Following the third walkout by Organized Labour during the National Minimum Wage negotiation Committee meeting, the Organized Private Sector of Nigeria, comprising Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), National Association of Small Scale Industries (NASME) and National Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) expressed its concern as the National Minimum Wage Committee, after its 7th meeting, could not achieve a consensus.

Speaking in Lagos, the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde on behalf of the OPSN stated that “the Organized Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) had approached the Minimum Wage negotiation hoping that current economic realities as it concerns the need to protect jobs and ensure sustained growth would play a paramount role. However, this was not the case.

The Committee was set up to negotiate a new National Minimum Wage and not a living wage. Neither was it inaugurated to adjust salaries. The Minimum Wage is the wage that no employer should pay below, either in the private or public sector.

Our position was informed by the need to arrest the ongoing job losses and continuous shut-down of businesses in Nigeria. It is important to state that jobs can only be guaranteed when businesses are alive and sustainable”.

Speaking further on the walkout and declaration of strike by Organized Labour, the NECA Director-General noted that “while it is within the right of Organized Labour to embark on any action it deems fit and necessary to achieve its objectives, Organized Businesses will also, within extant legislation do all that is necessary to protect enterprise sustainability and protect jobs. It is no secret that organized businesses are currently faced with multidimensional challenges ranging from multiple taxes, levies and fees, recent astronomical power costs, rising interest rates and exchange rates amongst many others. The offer of N60,000, which is a 100 percent increase in the National Minimum Wage was sacrificial on the part of the Organized Private Sector. While it is important to note that socio-economic conditions over the years have rendered the N30,000 minimum wage inadequate, the same conditions have incapacitated many businesses, fatally affecting their sustainability and ability to pay. The demand by Organized Labour at this period has the potential to cripple Small and Medium Enterprises and push many other businesses into comatose.

Proffering a solution to the quagmire, the NECA DG stated that
“it is important to strike a balance between workers’ needs, the current economic situation, ability to pay and productivity. At N30,000 per month, many State Governments and Local Government Areas are unable to pay. An astronomical increase as being demanded will make compliance practically impossible. We urge Government to fast-track the implementation of its interventions to make life more bearable for workers, businesses, and Nigerians in general. Any disruption of organized businesses’ activities could have serious consequences on job security and the sustainability of businesses. Businesses need to be alive and stay sustainable for jobs to be created and for Government to generate taxes.”

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