By Funmi Komolafe
As it is in Nigeria,so it is in the United States of America. Perhaps the difference is that we have not heard so much noise about agitation of a rise in the national minimum wage but on July, 24, the federal minimum wage was raised for the â€œ third year in a rowâ€ according to Aaron Smith of CNN money.com.
The new rate has thrown up issues which are, â€œwill it help workers at the bottom of the ladder or will it kill their jobs?â€,
With the new rate Aaron Smith reports, â€œ The U.S. minimum wage goes to $. 7. 25 ( N1, 065, 75k) per hour from $6.55 ( N962, 85k ) according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Most states have their own minimum wage, and employers are required to pay whichever is higher. That means minimum wage workers will get a raise in 29 states. In the remaining 21 states and Washington, D.C. , theyâ€™ll see no changeâ€.
Nigeria claims to be a federation like the United States of America but Labour is on the exclusive list here. So, the national minimum wage is for all the 36 states and the federal capital territory, Abuja.
Aaron wrote â€œ In some states, the increase will be more modest. In New York, the state minimum wage is $7.15 (N1, 051.05k) an hour, so workers there will be paid an extra dime an hour, which means another $4 ( N588) for a 40- hour week. But in states like Georgia, Virginia and Texas, workers are paid the current federal minimum of $6.55, so theyâ€™ll get a raise of 70 cents ( about N10. 29k) , which translates into a $28 ( N4, 116.00) bump for a full-time week, or more than $1,400 ( N205,800 ) a yearâ€.
However, a minimum wage expert with the Economic Policy Institute ( EPI), Heidi Shierholz , â€œ because its not a a big increase, any impact will be modest, but it will be good. Youâ€™re seeing people say this is a wrong time to do this but I think that is entirely wrong-headed. They could not have planned this for a better timeâ€.
The CNN report quoted, Kai Filion, an economist with EPI as saying â€œthe wage increase will inject $5.5 billion ( about N808 billion) worth of extra spending into the economy over the next year
He recalled â€œ back in 2007, before the current recession began, Congress passed a bill to increase the minimum wage, which was then $5.15 an hour, three times over three yearsâ€.
But Heidi Shierholz is of the view that raising the minimum wage â€œ gets additional money to low-wage workers. These are workers who are mostly struggling to get by and will spend that extra cash. That is actually stimulusâ€.
In 2000, following a negation between the Nigeria Labour Congress, the federal government and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association ( NECA) the national minimum wage of N5, 500 per month ( about ).
Kassim calls for improved budgetary allocation to Labour ministry
THE former Permanent Secretary of Labour and Productivity, Alhaji Suleiman D. Kassim has called for enhanced budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Labour and Productivity to enable it meet its numerous daily challenges.
A statement by the Principal Information Officer to the Ministry, Aliyu H. Saidu, noted that Alhaji Kassim stated this Monday at the handing over ceremony to his successor, Dr. Haruna Sanusi. He said that the challenges facing the Ministry of Labour are enormous as it occupies the Centre of Wealth Creation, Employment generation, Industrial peace and harmony in Nigeria.
He told his successor that the Ministry is endowed with dedicated staff and a Minister who is devoted to carry the Ministry to an enviable height in the delivery of its mandate.
Alhaji Kassim further appealed to the workers in the Ministry to extend the same co-operation and understanding to the incoming Permanent Secretary whom he describes as a hardworking person and a senior colleague.
In his remarks, the incoming Permanent Secretary, Dr Haruna Sanusi expressed his happiness that taking over from somebody he had worked with in the Federal Ministry of Finance was a thing of joy.
Dr Sanusi urged the entire staff of the Ministry to be hardworking and productive.