A New Minimum Wage Of N200,000 Is Achievable, Only If Workers Struggle For It.


The Movement for Socialist Alternatives MSA welcomes the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) call for a two-day warning general strike to challenge the rising cost of living in the country. With the current state of economic hardship, this action is timely as many Nigerians can barely meet their basic needs. The hike in fuel prices and continuous implementation of the neoliberal capitalist programme by the Tinubu government have further aggravated the already deteriorated economy where the past administrations of the PDP and APC left it.

While the national minimum wage had remained unchanged since 2018 when the meagre N30,000 was signed into law (which many state governments are yet even fully to implement), the fuel price increase from N145 to the current rooftop of N617 and still rising on account of condemning the country’s economy and currency to the blind dictates of so-called market forces that only favours international capital and the club of billionaires in Nigeria.

The attendant consequence is the series of hikes in essential items such as food, shelter, transportation, etc., leaving most Nigerian workers poorer. This is why the MSA support the strike notice and calls on workers not to take it as a sit-at-home strike but march on the street to condemn the policies making survival unbearable for the mass working people.

The MSA also commends the NLC for organising a National symposium on August 31 2023, on the theme of the “Nigerian Economy & the Crisis of Survival: Robbing the Poor to Pay the Rich” in Abuja, which helped in no little way to further guide the NEC of the NLC in arriving at a decision for a two days Warning Strike. We, however urge the leadership of the NLC to organise the same in all geopolitical zones of the country or even all states as part of a programme of enlightenment campaign for mobilising workers to resist any further attack on living conditions by the ruling elites and prepare for the struggle ahead of the working class. But more importantly, for the working class to learn to act as a class for itself and provide the political leadership that will lead the working masses to win power and bring an end to the nightmare of underdevelopment and penury that the country has been condemned into by capitalism.

The MSA also welcomes the call by Labour for an increase in the national minimum wage to N200,000. The current monthly minimum wage of N30,000, which is currently less than $39 dollars, is one of the lowest in Africa and the world generally. It is saddening that even smaller countries like Gabon can boast of a current minimum wage of $255. Anything short of the above and a periodic review mechanism on account of the indices of living conditions in the country is no longer acceptable. This call must also be backed with a call for political office holders, either elected or appointed, to be placed on the average earns of a skilled officer in the public service.

The MSA have, in all its previous statements, supported and urged the labour movement to jettison its penchant approach of calling an indefinite strike action for a preferable 48-hour warning strike as a step toward ending the anti-people policies of this government. The struggle against capitalism and its attack on the working masses is not a one-off action but a struggle that ultimately demands the building of a Working People Party. The MSA calls on the labour movement to reposition to reclaim the Labour Party for the working class.

A Warning strike frees the labour leadership of the unnecessary pressure to call off, without recall, to rank and file workers under the guise of negotiation. The Tinubu regime has had over 90 days and is still counting on taking too much from the already too little of the working masses to further enrich the tiny numbers of the members of the billionaire club.

The government announcement of palliatives to Nigerians to “cushion” the effect on the masses is a deception that the labour unions should not take seriously. No amount of these palliatives put out by this government can cushion the effect on any Nigerian. Labour must begin mobilising Nigerians as the Tinubu regime will not be different from previous regimes (both military and civilian) that have wasted Nigeria’s resources in importing refined oil or refinery maintenance. It ought to be taking the leading role of the state, investing the wealth of the country in expanding existing refineries and building new ones to make available affordable refined petroleum products for local usage.

The expectations of the rank-and-file workers and the general masses at this moment of economic crisis on the labour leadership are high, and the NLC should not dash the hope with a further suspension. The warning general strike should be used to mobilise the Labour centres and units for mass action to struggle to take back their country from the corrupt ruling elites who have continued to feed fat on jumbo salaries and allowances at the expense of the people.

The Labour leadership must take this opportunity to provide a nationwide mobilisation to end these attacks on the living conditions of the working masses, up to the point of calling on the Tinubu regime to vacate the seat of power if it remains unwilling to reverse its corrupt capitalist policies and refrain from imposing additional pains and suffering on the working masses.

Only a programme of struggle and revolution by the working masses can consciously act to reverse all of the anti-people programmes of deregulation and privatisation with which capitalism imposes unending suffering on the working masses.

Aj. Dagga Tolar
General Secretary MSA