The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) welcomes the recent salary increase announced by the Lagos State Government as it has been long overdue, though it does not match up with the rate of inflation and rising cost of living since the last increase in 2000. However if this announcement is not a mere pre-election political gimmick we demand its immediate and full implementation without any single retrenchment.
It could be recalled that the so-called N7,500 (US$ 59) minimum wage granted by Tinubu government in 2000 after a tumultuous struggle of workers that witnessed the state murder of a worker and the sacking of many others including Ayodele Akele, the COIU leader. In reality this turned out be much worse in real terms than what obtain in some of the states that granted a N5,500 (US$ 43) minimum wage.
We therefore demand that the recent 15% salary increase as announced by Governor Bola Tinubu should be based on the total welfare package of workers and not on their basic salary alone. It is only when this is implemented that the salary increase will have any meaningful impact on the lives of workers and their teeming dependants. Betraying its pro-rich bias, the Tinubu government announced 20% increase for directors without limiting it to basic salary.
We also call on all the trade unions across the federation to fight for increase in salaries of workers that will match the rate of inflation and rising cost of living. This is the only way workers could earn living wage.
Of all the states of the federation, Lagos bears the unenviable position of being the least in terms of salary structure for workers, despite being the commercial hub as well as one of the most expensive cities to live in.
Political office holders and their aides pay themselves stupendous amount as salary and allowances, aside from their usual treasury looting while less privileged workers that produce the wealth of the state are paid peanuts that cannot take a worker home, much less a worker with a host of dependants to cater for. More saddening is the fact that even the peanuts called ‘salary’ is not even paid when it is due. Workers are owed salary arrears for months, while pensioners are made to suffer much more before part of the accumulated arrears is eventually paid. This phenomenon has kept forcing workers to resort to strikes to compel government to pay their salary and allowances.
In all the states without exception the large chunk of revenue being generated together with their federal allocations is largely spent on propaganda on fictitious or inflated projects that do not have meaningful impact on the lives of its citizens. This is besides hugely funding the needlessly large state cabinets and retinues of aids as well as their vanities with the public resources.
The CDWR demands the periodic upward review of workers salary to match with the rising inflation and cost of living, much of which arises from anti-poor neo-liberal capitalist programme of governments at all levels, which has kept reducing the purchasing power of workers. We call on the labour and pro-labour organisations to organise activities on regular basis to raise the demand for a constant living wage for workers.