Wage increase not solution to workers’ predicament in the Country

Wage increase not solution to workers’ predicament in the Country

Amidst clamour for an upward review of wages of workers by organised labour, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the last presidential elections, Barr. Adewole Adebayo has said increasing workers’ wages when the country’s economy is experiencing hyperinflation would have little or no significant economic impact on the living conditions of Nigerians.

According to him, having more money does not translate to a quality life.

He urged the Federal Government to focus on strengthening the naira, adding that it is not the volume of cash at hand that matters but what the money can buy.

He said, “There are things we need to understand in basic economics. Having more money does not guarantee you anything. Everybody who is living today has more money than Julius Caesar because, at that time, the entire British economy was not up to one billion pounds for the first 1000 years of her existence. Purchasing power is what is important.

So, what we should focus on is what the money can buy, not the volume of money, which is the minimum wage. How much was my father earning when he married my mother? He was not earning 20,000 pounds at that time. So, now can you pay anybody $20,000 a week and the person will not curse you?”

He argued that what is needed is to increase productivity so that the purchasing power of the naira will be strengthened and workers will enjoy whatever amount they receive as the minimum wage.

“But you have to increase the volume of housing. You have to increase the volume of food. You have to increase the number of classrooms. You have to increase the space available for productivity by making sure you ramp up production,” he said.

Adebayo noted that organised labour does not represent the interests of a greater number of Nigerians, as only a few Nigerians belong to the organisation.

He said: “As for organised labour, they are a subset of the Nigerian political class. They don’t represent the workers. I am not saying that to insult the present leadership or anything. No, it is just the structural part of it. Before you can be a member of the NLC or the TUC, you must have a job. And there are more people without jobs than people with jobs.

“So, if you are unemployed, you are not a member of any labour union because it’s only for workers. So, the challenge we are facing is how to put more people in the workforce. They are not as representative as you think.

“Secondly, productivity and things that can affect productivity are the things that labour is supposed to be fighting for, not just wage control only. If the government is implementing a policy that is going to affect productivity, labour should know that there will be job losses.

“That was the difference between Obama and Mitt Romney when the election was decisive. When you ask the people of Michigan who they will vote for, they will tell you they will vote for Obama, who saved their jobs, not Mitt Romney, who wrote an article, ‘Let Detroit be bankrupt.’

‘So, those workers are not voting according to ethnicity, religion, or any politician that can give them money to mobilise them and settle their leadership; they are voting according to their interests.

“If you save General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford, you have saved thousands of jobs, you have saved thousands of families, and you have saved millions of people. So, I want labour to engage the government more meaningfully, not just negotiate for N1 million per month.”

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