The (ULC) has declared that Nigeria’s national minimum wage is only better than those earned by workers in war-ravaged sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. The ULC made the declaration on Friday while making a presentation to the Committee on the New National Minimum Wage at a public hearing in Lagos. The congress demanded that the minimum monthly wage be raised to N96,000.
According to the ULC, the current minimum wage of N18, 000, an equivalent of $50, is only better than that of Uganda, Malawi and Burundi, which respectively pay workers $6, $49 and $7 monthly.
ULC’s presentation was made on its behalf by Mr. Segun Esan, General Secretary of Nigerian Union of Railwaymen (NUR). Mr. Esan lamented that Nigerian workers are ranked among the most poorly paid in the world. He maintained that some state governments would not find the increase to N96,000 too steep and could conveniently afford to pay it, given their revenue profiles.
Of the 21 countries selected in sub-Saharan African, Nigeria ranked 18, with its payment of the equivalent of $50 monthly as national minimum. The ULC listed countries with higher minimum wages than Nigeria as including Algeria ($531), South Africa ($517), Kenya, Gabon ($418), ($331), Lesotho ($242), Mauritius ($218), Tanzania ($149), Senegal ($148), Congo Republic ($145), Burkina Faso ($138), Madagascar and Ghana ($128), Congo Democratic Republic ($68) and Ethiopia ($77).
“From the table shown above, it becomes clearer that Nigerian workers rank among the lowest paid workers in sub-Saharan Africa and these include nations that are at war. Our N18,000 Minimum wage translates to about U$50.00 monthly and this is better than only Uganda, Malawi and Burundi,” said Mr. Esan.
He described the situation of Nigerian workers as a national embarrassment, adding that among the 21 countries measured, the mean average monthly minimum wage is $184, while the median is $146.
“Comparatively, our $50 minimum wage pales into insignificance when compared with what workers in other nations earn. We are still adrift by U$134 from the monthly average within the SSA region, which is U$184.00 monthly.
“Given the quantum of resources available to Nigeria, we should at least pay our workers slightly above the SSA average. A monthly salary of $300, which translates to N108,000 monthly could still be managed by Nigerian workers as a wage floor,” said Mr. Esan.
He recalled that in 2010, the minimum wage was reviewed by a tripartite body leading to a submission of a bill to the National Assembly. The bill sought an amendment to the previous wage floor of N5,500 per month to N18,000 per month, which was expeditiously passed and assented to by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. He, however, lamented that eight years after, the implementation has been frustrated by the federal and state governments.
Mr. Esan explained that the National Minimum Wage Act of 2010 had a life span of five years and should have been reviewed in 2015.
The ULC added that a research it independently conducted showed that the monthly cost of basic needs for an average family in Lagos is N93,000, exclusive of luxury items.