The Nigerian Labour Congress just announced that it would be proceeding on strike from the 20th day of July to the 22nd day of July in 2011 over the unpaid minimum wage that has just being reviewed and the proposition that the review would only be applicable to people at some levels. The first thing that strikes me is the habitual style of the Federal Government in waiting for the Labour Congress to always threaten strike action or embark on the strike before the congress is called to a dialogue table!
In a period when anyone is building the economy of a nation I think I think the government must realize that one of the least things we need is a strike action. We really can start a long term debate on the necessity of the strike action but we should look at a few issues before doing that. I have no idea who is advising the Presidency on economic matters but one would have thought that they had these in consideration:
1. Wrong impression to foreign investors
We keep talking about inviting foreign investors but we are doing things that chase the foreign investors away and a strike action is one of them. If I am an investor in this country I would think about the fact that workers will go on strike and they would still expect to be paid at the end of the month. If they are not paid there is likely to be another issue but on the part of the investor, expenses are accruing to the detriment of the business! When workers are not available business is grounded because there is no production or no service is rendered so money is not coming in and I still have to pay off bills from what has been made!
2. The implication on the health sector.
Right now I can imagine how many innocent people are in the intensive care units of several government owned hospitals which are the cheapest in the country. The picture of babies in incubators that I saw the last time I visited the hospital is coming back to my brain. These are babies that may not survive 15 minutes without electricity or proper monitoring by health professionals. Is someone thinking about those on life support machines? How many people are likely to die just because of the coming strike?
3. A blow on the banking industry especially the ones recuperating from the excesses of their former MDs
Regardless of the fact that there are ATM machines to dispense cash to people, we need to remember the fact that the ATM has withdrawal limits of N100,000 per day and that means people who transact business in millions and billions are grounded especially because the internet banking has not really gotten its root. There is no way we can deny the fact that the movement of cash in this period is restricted and that means people are not buying products and services are not being created. For the banks it means there will be no cash on transaction (COT) deductions and I expect you to imagine how much that to be for the banks on all daily transactions.
I really had more issues to raise but I feel the health sector alone is one strong reason we should reconsider how government is run in this country. What the government can do right now which is going to be a responsible action is to consider the loses – lives – and other consequences (on the economy). We should not be counting our loses over what could have been shelved! After all, the government will still pay the money so why wait for losses from the strike and then start borrowing to pay the money again?
Fola Daniel Adelesi
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