Showing posts with label low income workers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label low income workers. Show all posts

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Majority of Nigerian Workers Are Suffering on May Day

A Nigerian worker, the hero of May Day

Every May 1 is May Day, a holiday for workers all over the world to celebrate the dignity of labor and their achievements as white collars or blue collars. But majority of the workers in Nigeria have nothing to celebrate. In Lagos, the government workers are lamenting the woes of poor wages and the high cost of living caused by unchecked inflation and insecurity in the most populous city in West Africa.

In Lagos state, low income workers are among the most grossly underpaid workers in Nigeria. Their meager salaries or what I call starvation wages cannot even afford three square meals for a single person. The same poor wage from which an employee must pay house rent and other bills in the most expensive place to live in Nigeria.

The minimum wage in Nigeria is one of the lowest in Africa.
How can an adult live on a salary of N7, 000 – N10, 000 monthly when he or she needs about N500 for average three square meals daily?

The high cost of living in Lagos makes it impossible for anyone to even eat three square meals on a monthly salary of N10, 000. I have seen many secondary school leavers earning nothing more than N5, 000 monthly salaries!

Nigeria has the worst wage discrepancies I have ever seen in the world. These wage discrepancies are making majority of the most populous country in Africa poorer by the day. And poverty is the major cause of rebellion against the state as shown by horrifying and terrifying cases of rising crime, prostitution and other anti-social vices since there is no form of social security for the citizens.

There is no scholarship or social welfare for brilliant children of poor employees. So when their poor wages cannot be enough to pay the school fees of their children, they drop out and they simply send them to learn a trade. You see thousands of children and young adults who are hawking on the street or selling in the market when their mates from comfortable families are going to school. So, in most cases, the poor children of the poor workers cannot have good education and end up at the bottom of the social hierarchy where their parents were. The poor get poorer while the rich get richer as the children of high income earners end up going to better schools to have a better education that would guarantee better jobs and better wages. So, the vicious circle continues and perpetuation of social class disparities worsens the predicament of the poor.

The underpaid workers see the well paid or overpaid Nigerians as their oppressors and enemies of their progress. These glaring discrepancies and disparities have pitched the poor against the rich. That is why the get-rich-quick syndrome is gripping the poor. Frustration leads to desperation, because the indignities of poverty make them to have low esteem.

Better wages and social welfare benefits will improve the lives of the poor low income workers and eventually reduce criminal and vicious activities.

Those who ignore the needs of the poor do so at their own peril.

The minimum wage in Nigeria should not be less than N50, 000. Because, anything less than N50, 000 is nothing short of starvation wage.

Every worker should be well paid to enable him or her to provide for the family where the person is the sole bread winner. Social welfare and scholarships should be provided for the children of the poor wage earners so that their children will not end up as poor as their parents.

~ Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima