Minimum wage: Organisation urges adoption of human development approach

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By Emmanuel Oloniruha

The Abuja School of Social and political Thought (TASSPT), has called for the adoption of human development approach in determining the new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

The Director of the School, Dr Sam Amadi, gave the advice at a dialogue with the theme ”Determining fair minimum wage for Nigeria workers” organised by the school on Tuesday in Abuja.

Amadi said the school deemed it necessary to add its views on the way forward in arriving at an appropriate minimum wage which had wide social implications on the economic growth, poverty reduction, social and political activities.

He said that minimum wage as provided for in the international labour law and Nigeria constitution allowed workers to earn a living wage that guaranteed their wellbeing and life of dignity.

He said government and labour should not be disagreeing over minimum wage, as if there was no approach to arrive at an appropriate minimum wage.

“The first approach is to ask ourselves, what are those basic foods, goods that a person needs today to escape poverty?

“The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in designing their poverty methodology, first look at basket of goods. They ask themselves, what’s a basket of food and services that somebody needs daily?

“So for that basket of goods and services, you now ask, what’s the price, the cost on the average, what somebody would need?

“Let’s assume for a family, the typical standard, a wife, husband, and four children. You calculate it. That gives you the basis. If people have this income, will they be able to survive at the basic level,” he said.

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Amadi said what the school was advocating was a human development approach that first ask what people need in Nigeria to escape poverty? We call it the quality of life approach.

“When you have that, it forms the based. Then, in every other year, you use the approach called cost of living adjustment, which we employ in our departments.

“It means that you re-index that benchmark to inflation every year. Someone has done an assessment of that.

”That assessment says, if you use COLA, which is what NBS uses every year to look at poverty, you will discover, a very interesting analysis.

“What you will discover is that 75,000 is the proper price, meaning that without changing the base of the salary, from 2018 to today, adjust for all the inflation that are officially captured, that base will give you today 75,000,” he said.

He also said that in determining the minimum wage, the rate of Naira to the dollar should be considered.

Amadi recalls in 1981 the minimum wage was N1,500 with one dollar exchanging for N0.62 totaling 2,419 dollars per month, while in 1991 it was increased to N3,000 at 5.91dollars in which the value dropped to 302 dollars.

He also explained that when it was increased to N30,000 in 2015 the dollar was exchange for N368 reducing the value of the minimum wage when compared to dollar at 56 dollars.

Amadi said that for the proposed N54,000 by the Federal Government at current exchange rate the dollar value would be about 36 dollars.

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“Today, minimum wage that’s been taxed, amounts to 66 dollars. Look at the drop and the one they are proposing now with inflation, will amount to less than 10 dollars,” Amadi said.

He said that in arriving at a new minimum wage, activate Chapter 2 of the Constitution, which said that people have a living wage, a right to live, should also be activated.

He said that the argument should not be about viability of the state to pay, saying its a function of the concept of development that the state has.

Amadi said that contrary to fear that the minimum wage would lead to labour loss, it would actually enhance labour productivity, address poverty as well as lead to sustainable economic growth.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Ese E. Eniola Williams

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