By Olugbenga Salami
The Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria, (MHWUN), on Monday said that government should be held responsible for the socio-economic and hardship that might occur during the strike which abinitio should have been avoided if the right thing had been done.
This is even as the union urged its members nation-wide to remain resolute and be committed to the effective and orderly implementation of the strike commencing today except the government agreed to the workers’ demand.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, MHWUN’s national president, Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah, said the strike “is as a result of the government’s failure to implement the constitutional requirement of the upward review of the national minimum wage which is long overdue”.
He therefore called on the workers “to stand firm and be resolute in the struggle until success is achieved” even as he also advised the government to increase the minimum wage to N30,000 which is a compromise figure it agreed with the labour.
Josiah said: “The tripartite agreement which arrived at the N30,000 minimum wage increment has been jettisoned by the government, it does appear there is no will on the part of the government to review and implement the legitimate demands of the Nigerian workers.
“The minimum wage increment was due since 2016, that’s 2011 – 2016, but the government pleaded that it was new and the economy was down, therefore, the organized labour showed some understanding, hence the reason Labour remained patient, until recently when the matter was brought up, and government is still showing reluctance to pay.
“The government is complaining of a broken economy but then the political class is earning equal to or more than their counterparts in the United States where we copied our model of democracy.
“The N30,000.00 compromise figure by the Nigerian Workers is less than 100 USD per month at the current exchange rate of N365.00 per dollar. Whereas in the same United States the minimum wage per hour is 10USD that is 80USD per day 400USD for five working days (per week) and 1600USD Per month that’s (N584,000.00 per month).
“Therefore, there is no reason why the political class should earn (even 10% more than) their American counterparts while the workers are earning pittance”.
The union leader also described as mischievous the insinuation that any pay rise in the country would create inflation.
“For instance, the increment in minimum wage is not responsible for the current inflation in the country which is double digit, neither is it also responsible for the economic recession the country found itself. In civilised societies the welfare of workers is a paramount responsibility of government.
“It’s very obvious that the N18,000.00 national minimum wage is no longer feasible and it is a trivialisation of a living wage”, he declared.
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