By Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr. Donald Duke, has asked the federal government to find a comprehensive and long term solution to the chronic minimum wage crisis that has been pitting the organised labour in the country against their employers.
Describing the usual response of the federal government in addressing the recurring minimum wage issue as “fire brigade,” Duke said such approach is tantamount to giving a short term solution to a long term problem.
Speaking with journalists in Calabar Tuesday, Duke who is the former governor of the state, said such approach was inherently faulty and unsustainable hence, the incessant resurgence of the issue of minimum wage.
The SDP presidential hopeful, advocated a holistic and systemic approach to addressing the recurring minimum wage problem.
“The best approach to solving this lingering problem is to identify and address the real needs of civil servants such as food, housing, transportation, health, children’s education, security rather than focusing on salary increases,” Duke said.
Drawing an example from the policy of his administration when he was governor, Duke said the highly subsidised “Metro Blue” public transportation scheme he introduced to help in cushioning the transport cost for workers could be emulated.
He also advocated a shared ownership of the process and solutions to the issue through an effective dialogue between labour and government, taking into consideration all the variables in workers/government relations.
Duke urged the federal government to involve all the stakeholders including the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and state governments in the negotiation process because they are important stakeholders being that they also employ reasonable number of workers.
He called for a periodic review of salaries every 10 years, taking into cognisance variables such as inflation, stressing that any policy adopted to the contrary may have negative economic consequences including downsizing the labour force.
The presidential candidate advised government to invest more of its energy in creating wealth by developing a production economy, rather than a consumption economy.
He said that a reversal of approach remains the only way of forestalling the incessant agitation and demand for wage increase and the consequent result of threats of strikes.