Increased wages: Panacea to Nigerian workers’ plight
It has been almost an annual rhetoric of Nigerian labour union to seek increment in wages for its teeming workers. Personally, I have never been a fan of this almost customary request as it is directly proportional to inflation. Traders, landlords and numerous business owners would by now be strategising on how to increase the prices of their commodities and services in consonance with the percentage of wages increment.
This will be equivalent to over-bloat in expenses of Nigerians.
Labour should rather clamour for provision of social amenities in the country as this will have a highly positive effect on the lives of our citizens. Engage the government in poignant discuss so that they will provide us with safe and good transport system (road and rail), affordable, subsidised and standard education system (enviable structures and good course content), functional and state-of-the-art hospitals, stable and affordable electricity, mass housing, availability of fuel, etc.
Increasing wages every now and then is just a pocket exercise of earning big but also spending big. Someone earns N56,000 per month with expenses totaling N54,000 for same period. He can barely save the remainder. But, if suddenly his salary is increased to N100,000 he then becomes a “big man.” Therefore, he must pay the equivalent price for his “big man” status for anything he buys. Under normal economic circumstance, workers ought to be able to save a reasonable amount of money from their earned salaries. However, how is that possible when the prices of basic needs are at rocket costs?
Little wonder some countries have consistently been ranked as the happiest nation in the world. Specifically, Denmark has been the country with happiest people on earth at least on three occasions in the last six years. Yet, that country cannot match Nigeria’s potential riches. But then, how can happiness be measured? According to a recent report by CNN, it has seven key ingredients which are; longer life expectancies, efficient and unequivocal social support system, freedom of life choices, low perception of corruption, experiencing more generosity, less inequality of happiness and lastly higher gross domestic product per capita.
In Denmark, unemployment benefit is $1,902 per month for up to two years, there is free health care and education for all citizens, subsidised child care among other social benefits. The country’s wealth gap between the rich and the poor is one of the lowest in the world.
While many will argue that Labour’s request is justifiable, it is pertinent to state that living a financially prudent life will in turn, make one’s financially modest. Nigerian workers should learn to differentiate their needs from their wants so that they will avoid unnecessary expenses. Workers must aloof themselves from flamboyant lifestyle as this is what has led to unfathomable avarice. Having a larger than life attitude is not a hyperbole in Nigeria, many people dwell in it. Some workers simply want this new wage to uplift their hubris.
Labour must ask itself a genuine and pragmatic question, can the government afford the proposed minimum wage? At this period when crude oil price is at a record low, where countries like the United States, Saudi Arabia (with the best crude oil in the world) and Iran have excess reserve of oil to sell. Our oil is no longer a hot commodity in the globe.
Labour should rather pugnaciously push for effective and efficient social support system instead of this almost annual ritual of increase in workers remuneration. Engaging in industrial action for the failure of government in providing basic socio-economic amenities is more justifiable for me.
• Adelasoye is an IT analyst, Cadastral Zone, Federal Housing Authority, Lugbe, Abuja. Email: taiwo email@example.com Tel: 08034281660