Minimum wage is not the problem of Nigerian worker. Government can pay him N100,000 monthly, but the country he lives has degenerated to a level that even with that amount, he will need prayer to survive the social and economic upheavals Nigeria has created for its citizens.
The Nigerian worker has no social insurance, he pays for his healthcare, he has no house, no electricity, no public transport, no portable water and no personal security. Above all that, school proprietors, landlords and inflation are working tirelessly to make nonsense of his salary increase.
In China, minimum wage is $358, equivalent of N128,00. But that is not what keeps the Chinese worker going. He has free housing, healthcare, education, affordable public transport and constant supply of electricity.
China has wiped away hunger, so even with lesser amount, the Chinese worker will live well because his basic needs are not dependant on his salary.
Minimum wage in Germany is 1557 euro, the equivalent of N650,000. But income tax in Germany, depending on the salary can range from 24% to 45%.
But the German worker is not bothered with high tax because the government takes care of his children’s education and healthcare and gives child support allowances to all parents.
There is affordable housing and cheap public transport system for all Germans. In addition to that, there is electricity and clean water.
The real problem of Nigerian worker is absence of all the mentioned social support system. He is on his own and lives in constant fear of losing his job.
He is aware that even if he stays his full years of service, pension is never reliable and at the age of 65 years when he leaves work he will not even be able to think well on how to start a business.
Like I said in many of my posts, the labour leadership missed the point. NLC should push government to address all the negativities that make life miserable for Nigerians. They should push government to abolish salary disparity among its agencies.
They should push government to spend on education so that the Nigerian worker will not spend 90% of his earning trying to educate a child. Labour should push government to make electricity available.
With steady supply of electricity it is easy for workers to leave salary jobs and start up businesses. Government should reduce interest rates and VAT for business start-ups.
Out of the 18m millionaires in China, none of them relies on salaries. Majority of Chinese middle class made it through production of goods and services. Earning salary leads people into a trap, a vicious circle of poverty and want. People earn more by being creative and productive.
Labour should fight for enabling environment including loans for workers to escape salary entrapment.
The N30,000 minimum wage is absolutely useless. Inflation is already at 40% for some food items. Life will only get worse if the fundamental social and economic issues are not solved.
By Aliyu Nuhu