Again, labour rejects FG’s fresh ₦54,000 minimum wage offer

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Labour
  • Governors’ absence stalls negotiations
  • Labour insists on May 31 deadline for implementation
  • Discussions continue today

The Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress have again rejected the N54, 000 proposed by the Federal Government as the new minimum wage.

This followed the resumption of negotiations by the Tripartite Committee on New National Minimum Wage after the NLC and TUC rejected the N48,000 minimum wage earlier proposed by the Federal Government.

At the reconvened meeting on Tuesday, the Federal Government made a fresh proposal to pay N54, 000 as against the initial N48, 000 it proposed during the last sitting.

However, a reliable source at the meeting told journalists that the Organised Labour refused the new proposal, as it is a far cry from the N615, 000 proposed by both the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress.

According to the source, the meeting which was held behind closed doors at the Nicon luxury hotel in Abuja on Tuesday has been adjourned to Wednesday (today) to continue with negotiations.

The Organised Labour comprising the NLC and the TUC gave the Federal Government up till the end of May to conclude negotiations for a new minimum wage.

The unions also directed their members in states that owe the N30, 000 minimum wage to gear up for industrial action.

In reaction to the proposed N54, 000, NLC spokesperson, Ben Ukpa, told journalists that what the government is offering is “unacceptable”.

“The unions, including the NLC and TUC, reject the N54, 000 proposed. We will continue discussions,” Ukpa said.

Other sources who attended the follow-up meeting on Tuesday also confirmed that the Federal Government increased its offer from N48, 000 to N54, 000.

“Well, during the meeting, the government increased its offer from N48, 000 to N54, 000. However, labour rejected that offer and the meeting has been adjourned till Wednesday,” the source who asked not to be named said.

When asked if the government’s side was showing any sign of seriousness, the labour leader said, “No seriousness at all. Even state governors did not show up. Those who represented them, like Bauchi and Niger States, did not have the mandate to speak on their behalf.

“As regards the private sector, we did not get to them before the meeting was adjourned but we hope they also increase their initial offer.”

The National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, insisted on N615, 000 minimum wage, arguing that the amount was arrived at after an analysis of the current economic situation and the needs of an average Nigerian family of six.

He blamed the government and the OPS for the breakdown in negotiation, saying, “Despite earnest efforts to reach an equitable agreement, the less than reasonable action of the Government and the Organised Private Sector has led to a breakdown in negotiations.”

In a statement released at the end of the jointly held NEC meeting by the NLC and TUC which was signed by Joe Ajaero, NLC president and Festus Osifo, TUC president, the unions said they acknowledge the ongoing negotiations between the NLC/TUC, the Organised Private Sector and the Federal Government regarding the new national minimum wage.

While appreciating what they described as the efforts made thus far, the NLC and TUC emphasized the urgency of reaching a fair and equitable agreement that reflects the true value of Nigerian workers’ contributions to the nation’s development and the current crisis of survival facing Nigerians as a result of government’s policies.

They also affirmed commitment to ensuring that the interests and welfare of workers are adequately protected in the negotiation process.

President Bola Tinubu through Vice President Kashim Shettima, on January 30, 2024, inaugurated the 37-member Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage to come up with a new minimum wage ahead of the expiration of the current N30, 000 wage on April 18.

With its membership cutting across federal and state governments, the private sector and organised labour, the panel is to recommend a new national minimum wage for the country.

During the inauguration of the panel, Shettima urged the members to “speedily” arrive at a resolution and submit their reports early.

“This timely submission is crucial to ensure the emergence of a new minimum wage,” Shettima said.

In furtherance of its assignment, a zonal public hearing was held simultaneously on March 7 in Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, and Abuja.

The NLC and the TUC in different states proposed various figures as a living wage, referencing the current economic crunch and the high costs of living.

In their different proposals on the minimum wage, the NLC members in the South West states demanded N794, 000 as the TUC suggested N447, 000.

At the North Central zonal hearing in Abuja, the workers demanded N709, 000 as the new national minimum wage, while their counterparts in the South South clamoured for N850, 000.

In the North West, N485, 000 was proposed, while the South-East stakeholders demanded N540,000 minimum wage.

But organised labour settled for N615, 000 as a living wage.