Adetola A. Kehinde

My dear friends, the organised labour today declared another industrial action to compel the government to sign a new minimum wage. The new media is awash with different arguments, mostly in solidarity with the workers. This is understandable. But, if I may ask, do we have the full pictures of the issues? Do we really know what it means?

I agree that the minimum wage can not remain at N30,000 as things stand today. It is impractical. But I am sceptical about the amount the organised labour unions are standing on. They are asking the government to pay N494,000 or no deal. This is fine only if the parties involved are limited to just the organised labour unions and the government.

But there are more parties to this issue than are being talked about. Everyone concerned should have a say. Once a new minimum wage is enacted, it becomes binding on not just the governments but on all employers of labour across Nigeria, private or otherwise. From banks to private schools, everyone must pay the N494,000 minimum threshold to their employees, or they will be in breach of the national minimum wage act.

If you run a private business that hires workers, you need to pay your workers N494,000 each every month in line with the minimum wage law. The exceptions to this are if such workers are on contract, your business is commission-based, or your business is seasonal in nature, such as agriculture.

When you enact N494,000 as the new minimum wage, the reverberating effects are clear. Marketers and all service providers, expectedly, will adjust their prices to make enough money to cope with the new normal and make enough gains to survive the terrain. In the end, nothing would have changed in terms of boosting the purchasing powers of the ordinary person, including government workers.

This is just one of the basic things you must understand. This is not a civil service minimum wage. It is a national minimum wage. All employers, public or private, are involved. Let the conversation continue, but let us ‘open our eyes’ and understand the issues.

Adetola writes from Lagos.