A frontline Industrialist, Dr Chike Obidigbo, has criticized calls by the Organized Labour for payment of minimum wage, but rather advocated for increased productivity as a solution. According to him, this could control prices of goods and services.
He argued that payment of minimum wage as being canvassed, would lead to hyperinflation which could be very difficult to control with commensurate increase in production of goods.
“We are always thinking about increasing wages, but there is something much more fundamental than salary increase. That is Productivity, because the economic power of a nation is dependent on its productivity,’’ he said.
Obidigbo was fielding questions from newsmen shortly after the Annual General Meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) held at the Agulu Lake Golden Tulip Hotels, Agulu, near Awka, capital of Anambra State, South-East Nigeria.
The Industrialist explained that workers stood to benefit little or nothing, even with the implementation of the policy, if government failed to address issues relating to strengthening the productive sectors of the economy.
“Government should have paid more attention to production. If you are buying one cup of garri for N1 and then suddenly there is an inflow of garri and you are now buying it for 50k.
“Even if your salary is not increased, you have more from what you are getting now than increasing your salary without commensurate increase in production,” Obidigbo added.
He, then, argued that the Organized Private sector should be left out of the agitations by labour for wage increment as they would only offer what they have to their employees.
“The issue of minimum wage which they said they will pay is not going to affect the Organized Private sector because nobody should come and dictate to me how much I will pay.
“I can only pay what is feasible within my own earnings. You know all the areas government is supposed to be aiding us to continue employing more people, they are not doing anything about it,” Obidigbo said.
While calling on the federal government to address challenges facing the manufacturing sector and issues of unemployment, he regretted the slow pace at which the nation’s economy was moving.
“Industrialists know what to do to solve the unemployment problem in this country, but we don’t have the opportunity, those who are supposed to be championing our cause are politicians, not Industrialists,” he said.
Amaka E. Nliam