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Salary review won’t make sense without controlling inflation, NLC tells Nigeria govt



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The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has outlined significant conditions for the Muhammadu Buhari-led adminstration over the proposed review of salaries for civil servants.

The Congress noted that no amount of increase in naira terms would be good enough if government did control the rising inflation and high cost of goods in the country.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had on Tuesday communicated the intention of the Federal Government to jack up the salaries of workers.

Ngige said the government would announce new salaries for workers in the forthcoming year after exhaustive review by the presidential

The NLC Deputy President, Joe Ajaero, who reacted to the planned review In a chat with journalists on Wednesday, proposed a detailed meeting between all the stakeholders of the government, employers and labour unions to review the minimum wage.

Ajaero said the government must honestly consider the inflationary rates, cost of living and other factors before announcing its decision.

He said: “As we speak now, the price of kerosene, cooking gas, a litre of fuel; any of these items, multiply their cost by 30 days; it is more than the current N30,000 minimum wage.

“So, it is not necessarily the amount of money or quantum you are going to put that will solve our problem. You have to check the rate at which these items are going up, or else within even a day or two, the money will be used up.

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“The inflationary trend is not constant and that is why it becomes difficult to project at any point in time. From the level of inflation and the way it eroded the current minimum wage, it will be difficult to project in percentages what should be good for the review.

“If you don’t check inflation by making it stay at a nearly constant rate, if it continues to go up, there’s no amount of increase in naira terms that will assuage the level of devaluation of the currency and the take-home pay of the workers.

“Another thing is that if the naira continues to depreciate in value on a daily basis, it will be tough to project an amount, unless we are going to look at a situation where the minimum wage of workers would be self-adjusted such that if the inflation rate rises at a particular percentage, the minimum wage will adjust too based on that percentage.

“It is not going to be a straight jacket issue. If the Federal Government says there will be a review in the new year, and that review will involve a tripartite session- Labour, government and employers.

“So, if it is a review, then, the federal government has to bring all these factors to the table. But if it is an award, then, it is a different thing entirely. We will know how to make comments when we get clarification from them.”

The National Bureau of Statistics in its Consumer Price Index Report this month said inflation in Nigeria had continued to rise this year, hitting a new high of 21.47 per cent in November 2022.

Similarly, food inflation rate also increased to 24.13 yearly, showing 6.92 per cent higher compared to 17.21 per cent recorded in November 2021.

Most of the factors cited for the increase include importation occasioned by perennial currency depreciation, increase in the cost of production as well as an increase in energy cost.

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