NGC calls for living wage not minimum wage for struggling teachers in Sierra Leone

Dennis Bright – Chairman and National Leader, NGC: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 April 2022:

The analysis in this report is in support of the legitimate demands of our teachers in Sierra Leone who are calling for an increase in their earnings and improvement in their living conditions. Since the beginning of the Maada Bio administration in 2018, the NGC has been constantly warning them to take the issue of hardship in Sierra Leone seriously and to do whatever they can to address or at least to be seen to be addressing the issue.

Every time we publish a report on the rising prices of foodstuff in the market, we always calculate the total cost of feeding a family of four. Earlier this month, on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of Paopa sufferness, we estimated that a minimum wage (Le 600,000) earning family can only feed itself for about seven days if all the pay was spent on one basic meal a day. What we have been doing is to signal to the Government that, taking into account the cost of living levels, what we are calling “minimum wage” is in fact a sick joke.

Today, we move a stage further and propose that instead of a “minimum” wage, we now begin to talk about a “living” wage, earning that makes people live decently. Most Sierra Leoneans today are living in shame; they beg because they have to, those who work do not earn enough and have to beg too. They need to earn a living wage because what most people are paid now is disconnected from the cost of living in the country.

Based on calculations made of the prices of food and essential non-food items we have found that a family of four (which is very rare in Sierra Leone) needs Le.4,989,000 a month for food, shelter, water for cooking, laundry and cleaning, light, transport, top up and a little balance for basic medicals.

It is therefore not surprising that the teachers have started demanding more. They who are supposed to be the pillars of the Government’s flagship free education, are earning only one quarter of what they need to start living decently. And they are not alone! And did you know that the amount a certain public official collects as annual rent allowance is equivalent to the monthly salary of thirty-nine teachers (taken at 1.3m)? This Government needs to hang its head in shame, and Sierra Leoneans need deliverance!

We stand by the teachers and believe that it is their right to request for a better deal if they find out that their employer (the Government), is not rewarding them adequately for the services they provide. Teachers (including our mothers) made us what we are. I would like to pay tribute to the following teachers and lecturers who among others contributed immensely to my education and prepared me well for a life of service, truth and good example:

  • Rachel Lulu Wright (Prince of Wales and FBC),
  • Alaba Elfrida Ellis (Murray Town Primary School),
  • Eustace Palmer, the late Dr. Ramadan Dumbuya and Mrs. Jeannette Kamara (FBC).

All these people who made a solid impact on the lives of thousands of my generation were not rich but they were paid to live in dignity. We have no right to condemn the teachers of today to the disgraceful life they are living. If their demands are not taken seriously, Government’s flagship program may have to change its name to (FMQE) Free Minus Quality Education.

FOOD ITEMS NEEDED PER DAY FOR FAMILY OF FOUR PERSONS (Papa, Mama and two children)

ITEM AMOUNT UNIT PRICE DAILY TOTAL MONTHLY TOTAL
Coal 3 packets 2,000 6,000 180,000
Rice 4 cups 3,000 12,000 360,000
Pepper 1 cup 6,000 6,000 180,000
Palm oil 1 pint 5,000 5,000 150,000
Maggi 6cubes 500 3,000 90,000
Ogiri 3 tie 1,000 3,000 90,000
Plassas 3 tie 4,000 12,000 360,000
Fish (bonga) 1 set of 3 bonga fish   20,000 600,000
Onions 3 small   7,500 225,000
Black Plastic bag 1 1000 1,000 30,000
GRAND TOTAL     75,500 2,265,000

NON-FOOD EXPENDITURE FOR FAMILY OF FOUR PERSONS (Papa, Mama and two children)

ITEM DAILY MONTHLY TOTAL ANNUAL
Water (1 bundle) @ Le 6,000 per day (for 4 persons) 6,000 180,000 2,160,000
Water for laundry, cooking, cleaning etc. 6 bata @Le 1,000 (for 4 persons) 6,000 180,000 2,160,000
EDSA @ Le 200,000 (approx.100 units)   200,000 2,400,000
Medical (for 4 persons) @ Le 50,000   200,000 2,400,000
House rent @ Le 10,000,000 per annum   834,000 10,008,000
Transport (for 4 persons) @ Le 31,000 per day   930,000 11,160,000
Communications (top up/data etc.) @ Le 50,000 per week (for 4 persons)   200,000 2,400,000
GRAND TOTAL

 

  2,724,000 32,688,000

MONTHLY: FOOD (Le 2,265,000) + NON-FOOD (Le2,724,000)

Proposed monthly living wage is Le 4,989,000 (or Approx. Le 5,000,000) for sole breadwinner family of four.

3 Comments

  1. It’s rather unfortunate for the 6% NGC chairman to minimize the importance of the Free quality education program which has benefited millions of our citizens. Our country’s income or minimum wage is determined by our GDP. President Bio has even increased the salaries of teachers by 30% and lecturers by 75% recently after negotiations with the Union leaders.
    I respect that fact that they have been consistent in tallying prices around Freetown since 2018, but they have never come up with any solutions.
    Promising to build an Okada factory in our country or using Okada as the symbol of your party does not solve the problem of our youths, who supposed to be involved in Agricultural development which will reduce hunger and poverty. The time and energy used in “ Pulling Down” the Free quality education program can be channeled positively to encourage our teachers and even their leadership in parliament to encourage people to engage in more food production.
    Lastly encouraging people to keep on crying and complaining about hardship won’t solve their problems, but will eventually lead to depression.
    Fortunately, our citizens are aware about the Global Hardship, based on the fact that most of us in the diaspora receives encouraging calls from them regularly during the pandemic.
    May the almighty continue to protect our Free quality education program and our children.

  2. Happy Independent my fellow Sierra Leoneans. May I firstly quote a saying in Creole/Krio. “cut u coat according to u size”. I brought up this quotation with reference to the table of cost of living in Sierra leone highlighted by the NGC party. Looking through the list of food and non-food items, It is a beggar disbelief that such monies are spent in a family of four in Sierra Leone. My point is this, why must a family of four spend Le 6,000 a day / Le180,000 a month on pepper?. When I was in Freetown in March, in a house of five people ie four adults and a child, my wife spent less than Le6,000 on pepper on a daily shopping. Ogiri – do every food cooked food in Sierra Leone have ogiri in them? “NO”. So therefore Le 3,000 a day / Le90,000 monthly for Ogiri is not viable. Plassa – do we cook plassa everyday? “NO”. so again why totalled plassa for Le 12,000 daily / Le360,000 monthly. Palm oil – Not everyday used for cooking, doubtful.

    We should be encouraging families to somtimes cook food without palm oil. Foods like white Ebeh, white okra soup, etc. Black plastic bag – why must one go to the market everyday to buy bag for shopping? I do belief that every household in Sierra Leone reuses plastic bags previous bought to do their shopping. So why put down Le1,000 for daily plastic bag / Le30,000 monthly?.

    My honest opinion on the food item listed ie Ogiri, plassa, onions, rice, and palm oil, these high prices of foods are down to Sierra Leoneans not doing enough farming / agriculture and even some of those that used to do farming are now avoiding to get their hands dirty but rather looking for office jobs, okada and keke driving and hence the manpower to grow food is less, scarcity of food stuff becomes an issue thus raises the price of food items which is resulting to high cost of living. Do we have to blame the government of the day for shortages or high prices of our indigenous food stuffs? “NO”, we all are to be blamed. We work together, we all live a descent and comfortable lives. FOOD GO DAE BOUKU EN PLENTY FOR WE ALL NAR SIERRA LEONE EN PRICE GO GO DON. NON LOOK TO PAPA GOVERNMENT FOR DO EVERYTIN FOR WE. GO BACK TO DE GARDIN EN PLANT SOMETIN. May Gog bless Sierra Leone.

    • Mr. Kanyako, you have to make an intelligent guess. It is not sancrosanct that every family of four will have to spend that amount of money on a regular basis. But if you should live like a human being your expenditure should not be far away from the NGC estimates. If you can provide a decent meal for your family you should thank your stars.
      We should applaud the NGC for taking their precious time to provide these estimates so that people can have a fair knowledge of what it takes to acquire a basic meal for the family.

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