July 18, 2024

Organised Labour in Nigeria has declared it will not accept a minimum wage below N100,000 as negotiations with the Federal Government intensify.

Sources within the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have conveyed this firm stance, emphasizing that neither the government nor the private sector should expect labour to agree to anything less than a six-figure sum.

The unions have criticized the government’s approach to the negotiations, noting that the proposed increase from N48,000 to N57,000 is insufficient. They emphasized that President Bola Tinubu had committed to paying a living wage, which N57,000 does not meet.

Both the NLC and TUC plan to hold a national executive council meeting on Monday in preparation for discussions with the Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage scheduled for Wednesday. The recent negotiation meeting was adjourned after labour representatives rejected the government’s latest offer of N54,000.

During Tuesday’s session, labour sources reported that the government increased its proposal from N48,000 to N54,000, which was promptly rejected by labour representatives. The meeting was rescheduled for the following week. Labour leaders expressed frustration over the perceived lack of seriousness from the government, particularly noting the absence of state governors and inadequate representation from some states.

Labour leaders have set a firm deadline of May 31, 2024, for the implementation of a new minimum wage. NLC President Joe Ajaero has been vocal about the need for a N615,000 minimum wage, based on the current economic realities and the needs of an average Nigerian family. Despite reducing their demand to N497,000, labour leaders argue that the government’s incremental offers are insufficient.

The labour unions accuse the government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) of stalling negotiations. Financial Secretary of the NLC, Hakeem Ambali, pointed out that labour had made significant concessions, reducing their demand from N615,000 to N497,000, whereas the government’s adjustments were minimal. He called for the government to fulfill its promise of a living wage.

A senior labour leader indicated that an offer of N100,000 might be considered, underscoring that anything less would be unacceptable. Another anonymous TUC leader criticized the OPS for aligning with the government’s lower wage proposals, arguing that it undermines their own interests and the broader economy.

Labour leaders stressed that any new minimum wage must be in the six-figure range to ensure industrial peace. They warned of potential strikes if the government fails to meet their demands, asserting that strikes are a fundamental right protected by international labour laws.

The unions also noted that some states, including Kogi, Zamfara, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Sokoto, have yet to implement the previously agreed N30,000 minimum wage from 2019.

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