The Chairman of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (AUTH) branch of the Medical And Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Steve Oricha, has said the N30,000 new minimum wage approved by the Federal Government will not change the lives of workers.
Oricha, who spoke with our reporter in Gwagwalada yesterday, said although the implementation of the new minimum was a good thing, it would not help the workers.
He said, “Personally, I don’t think government has done workers any favour by introducing the N30,000 minimum wage.” He said labour unions had demanded for N56,000 and that for government to agree to pay N30,000, according to him, would not address the welfare challenges of Nigerian workers.
He said when the minimum wage was fixed at N18,000, exchange rate was N170 to a dollar, and that today, a dollar exchanged for N350, and “so the N30,000 will not make any difference in the lives of workers.”
Oricha said the country had not been able to control its inflation rate, which had been rising on daily basis, adding that if it remained as high as it was, workers would not benefit from the new pay.
“If you are increasing Value Added Tax (VAT) to source for the extra money that you are going to use to pay the minimum wage, it means you are collecting back from the people.
“Now, you go to the market, the traders will think that salaries have increased, not knowing that when you truly calculate it, they were better off when they were collecting N18,000 minimum wage,” he explained.
He further noted that he was not excited as a labour leader by the government’s approval of the N30,000 minimum wage, saying it was not something that he would celebrate.
“When we have a living wage, and government is also able to control this inflation, workers in Nigeria will rejoice. But for now, people are crying, people are dying as our roads are not good, while the system is collapsing under our nose and we are not doing anything,” he lamented.