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25 January 2019
The Socialist Party of Nigeria welcomes the rejection of N27,000 as the new minimum wage by the labour centres as reported in the news. The fact is that the figure is far less than N52,200 labour had demanded as far back as 2009 on the basis of the then prevailing costs of living.
However, it is not enough for labour to reject the figure on which basis a bill has been sent to the National Assembly by Buhari government. We call for an immediate declaration of a 48 hour general strike in the first instance, and the immediate mobilization of workers and support of the public for the strike and actions necessary to raise living standards.
We also call on workers both of federal and state governments not to fall for divide and rule tactics of Buhari government which promises to pay federal workers a minimum wage of N30,000 but fixes N27,000 as the national minimum wage. They must all rally around the demand of labour for a national minimum wage of N30,000 as a step towards a living wage.
Moreover, it not also enough to go on strike to insist on N30,000 minimum wage, the demand must also include no retrenchment of workers on account of the minimum wage and the settlement of arrears of salaries owed by many states on the basis of N18,000. This also means, as shown by the experience of workers with the N18,000 minimum wage, that labour leaders and workers must be prepared for a serious and sustained struggle to ensure full implementation of a N30,000 minimum wage at all levels.
Besides, labour must resuscitate the unfortunately long abandoned struggles against casualization of workers with poor pay and slave condition which is common especially in private sector. All private sector workers must be on minimum wage salary structure, enjoy decent condition of service and have right to join a trade union of their choice.
However, N30,000 is far below what can be called a living wage. Indeed, labour had originally demanded N66,500 before coming down to N30,000 at the tripartite committee. Serious struggle can win concessions. But the complaints of the employers and governments, especially state governors, illustrate the stack reality is that no government can guarantee living wage for every worker within the confines of unjust and exploitative capitalist system. This is why we have consistently called on labor movement to form and build a mass party of working people with a socialist programme, or join the SPN, with aim of building as a mass party that will wrest power from the thieving capitalist elites, run governance and economy on the basis of needs of vast majority, not greed of a few; and begin to end the rule of the iniquitous capitalist system.
Also importantly, we call on trade unions and workers to fight for adequate funding of quality public education, health care and provision of social infrastructures in order to reduce cost of living and the increase the disposable income of workers. However, achieving this cannot be guaranteed by any pro-capitalist government like that of the APC and PDP. Therefore, this further underscores why we invite workers and trade union activists to support our call for the building of a mass working people party on a socialist programme.