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Public sector patronage, consistent policies, will sustain computer plants

LogoDaily Independent Online.         * Thursday May 22, 2003

Toward labour productivity

By Victor Dike

However, a well-managed retirement benefit for workers could go a long way to boosting the morale and productivity of the workers in Nigeria, because many of them get bogged down worrying about their fate after retirement (ignoring or forgetting to give proper attention to their job duties). Knowing that they that would not get their benefits after retirement, some the workers would be tempted to get into corrupt practices in other to save towards retirement. Therefore, the establishments of social security system and unemployment compensation benefits are appropriate motivational employment packages that could boost workers morale and productivity. ‘Labor productivity is the amount of output produced by a worker with one hour of labor input’

It is appropriate to underscore the effects of non-payment of workers and remarkable benefits a society derives from increased labor productivity. If workers were not paid they would not have the resources to purchase the goods and services produced in an economy. This overtime would result in economic gridlock and the resultant sociopolitical and economic problems. However, economic growth and increase in productivity, ceteris paribus, would enable everyone in a society to enjoy higher standards of living.

Human beings are known to be goal oriented; and once a goal is set behavior aimed toward the goal persists until the goal is achieved. However, more often than not, a Nigerian worker works all his or her adult life without coming close to achieving ones life goals. The sad situation is worse today where an average worker cannot afford to meet his or her family’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, water, decent shelter, and health care. Yet, the society expects them to be honest, productive and law-abiding. It should be emphasized that a healthy worker, all things being equal, is a more (or highly) productive worker. Thus, lack of basic needs tend to impact negatively on workers’ morale and productivity.

As mentioned earlier, the workers who produce the goods and services the society needs are not being treated fairly. Apparently due to lack of funds the Federal Government has failed or refused to adequately fund the nation’s Universities and maintain the roads. But the corrupt politicians in the society are being showered with rosy employment and severance packages. For instance, the ThisDay (May 4, 2003) reported that the politicians who failed in their bid for re-election (and those who refused to re-contest) would walk home with huge severance packages, notwithstanding the mouth-watering furniture allowances they received at the beginning of their term. The Newspaper notes that the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives are expected to receive a severance pay of N5, 953,623 each, while the each Senator and member of the House would receive N2, 431,680 and N2, 382,255 respectively. Unfortunately, this is happening at a time when an average Nigerian work is owned many months of back pay, and the universities have been on a prolonged strike action for lack of the necessary funds to operate. Is this not a misplacement of priority? This, in the opinion of this writer, is the worst Nigerian character!

In advanced industrial and highly competitive economies, workers are the main tools for economic growth and social progress. Their demands are seriously and readily attended to, because without a dedicated workforce an organization (a nation) crumbles. As we have seen, this has been the problem with Nigeria where labor strike actions are rampant. Thus, more often than not, workers would not get the employers of labor (the government in most cases) to pay them or attend to their job-related problems without prolong strike actions. And this has always had devastating effects on the economy.

However, for fair treatment of workers, employers of labor in the society should include Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in every employee benefits agreements. With this workers would get automatic yearly salary adjustment equal to the rise in the Cost of Living of an area in which an organization is located. The salaries of workers, among other things, should be determined by the prevailing economic conditions of a locality, instead of the usual flat salary scale structure common in Government establishments. For instance, a Federal (State) civil servant that works in Lagos or Abuja would be paid more than one that works in a rural community, say Umuaka in Imo State. If I should be permitted to digress a little here: the Federal Government should not decide for State Governments (beyond setting up a National Minimum Wage). Therefore, the exclusion of State, Local and Private sector workers from the recent proposed 12.5% increase in the salaries of Federal workers (Vanguard, May 2, 2003) is a step in the right direction. It is gratifying to note that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo did not repeat his previous mistake of setting set up the salaries of State and Local government workers. It is the administrative duty of State Governments to determine what each they can afford to pay their workers (putting into consideration their revenue base and cost of living in the area). 

To crown the good policy, the Federal Government should speed up the privatization process, so that the Federal Government would desist from determining the costs of public utilities (and fuel prices) in the society. Market forces should be allowed to regulate prices; with that, the prices of commodities would vary according to the economic conditions of a locality. More importantly, the society should endeavor to create appropriate value system in which honesty and good skills are appreciated and adequately rewarded. This could reduce the increasing ‘brain-drain’ and encourage the youth to seek training in needed-skill areas, as good skills would boost the morale and productivity of workers. Nigeria can move forward only if persistent and determined efforts are made by the leadership to tackle the many and glaring deficiencies in the system.


Dike is CEO, Centre for Social Justice and Human Development (CSJHD),

Sacramento, California




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