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Labour Braces for Fresh National Minimum Wage War as Cost of Living Soars Beyond N30,000 Pay

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in the month of last August reported a drop of 17.01% from 17.38% recorded in July 2021 in Nigeria’s inflation rate. That represented the fifth consecutive decline in the rate of inflation recorded in the country by the data agency.

But, despite the decline in the rate of the increase in the price of goods and services, analysts say it is still a huge gap at 17.01%, which indicates that the purchasing power of Nigerians is growing weaker and weaker. The situation gets worse as the naira continues to crash in the exchange market.

The condition of living in the country might force the organised labour to agitate for a higher national minimum wage. The current wage regime of N30,000 which many states are reluctant to pay, is incapable of coping with the skyrocketing food prices in the market.

Cross River State Council Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ben Ukpepi, has even started to hint that the take-home N30,000 national minimum wage no longer takes Nigerian workers home.

Ukpepi who spoke while commemorating the 2021 International Day for Decent Working Environment in Calabar, the state capital, said the 2021 Day has “Just Jobs” as its theme

Explaining that it was obvious that the workforce in Nigeria was working in environments that were deficient in indecency, adding that something needed to be done, the NLC chief points out, ‘’ in Cross River, we are marking the World Decent Work Day as a result of the growing trend of huge deficit of decent work in our society.

“We see this every day in the state in the ‘casualisation’ of workers, retirement without gratuity, promotion without implementation and a dilapidated working environment. It’s sad that even those in the Cross River Civil Service are being converted to casual workers and there is a huge debt of non-payment of gratuity to many of our retired comrades.

“According to International Labour Organisation (ILO), decent work is a job that is secured with social security and the workers entitled to form trade unions for the protection of their rights’’, and accordingly called on the government at all levels, to ensure that there was decent and profitable work for the teeming population of the nation, especially the youths.

While he stated that this was one of the ways to ensure that the youths didn’t become willing tools in the hands of desperate politicians who abandoned them after winning election, NBS figure was, however, 0.37% points lower than what was recorded in the previous month.

On a month-on-month basis, the headline index increased by 1.02% in August 2021, this is 0.09% higher than the rate recorded in July 2021 (0.93%), and the urban inflation rate increased by 17.59% (year-on-year) in August 2021 from 18.01% recorded in July 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 16.43% in August 2021 from 16.75% in July 2021.

On a month-on-month basis, the urban index rose by 1.06% in August 2021, up by 0.08% points compared to the rate recorded in July 2021 (0.98%), while the rural index also rose by 0.99% in August 2021, up by 0.12% points compared to the rate that was recorded in July 2021 (0.87%).

The closely watched index, which measures the rate of change in the prices of food items in the country, dropped to 20.3% in August 2021, compared to 21.03% recorded in the previous month.

According to the report, the rise in the food index was caused by increases recorded in the price of bread cereals, milk, cheese and egg, oil and fats as well as tea and cocoa.

The ”All items less farm produce” or Core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.41% in August 2021, down by 0.31% when compared with 13.72% recorded in July 2021.

Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had said at the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference that the declining inflationary trend has reflected several measures put in place by the fiscal and monetary authorities.

The Monetary Policy Committee kept the country’s monetary benchmark rate constant at 11.5% in a bid to expand the economy from the recession recorded in the third quarter of 2020. He however stated during the last MOC meeting that the committee had hoped for a faster moderation in the inflation rate than is being recorded.

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