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HomeLatestLabour Unions Reject Govt's Minimum Wage Proposal, Walk Out of Negotiation

Labour Unions Reject Govt’s Minimum Wage Proposal, Walk Out of Negotiation

The organized labour unions, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), walked out of the ongoing minimum wage negotiations yesterday.

This followed what they described as “ridiculous offers” from the government and the Organized Private Sector (OPS), which proposed N48,000 and N54,000, respectively.

The unions argued that the government’s offer effectively reduces the income of federal workers, who currently receive a total of N77,000, including the mandated N30,000 minimum wage, a 40 percent peculiar allowance of N12,000, and a N35,000 wage award introduced by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

At a joint press briefing, NLC President Joe Ajaero and TUC Deputy President Dr. Tommy Okon criticized the government for failing to provide data to justify its offer. Ajaero stated that the government has until the end of the month to make a decision, after which labor unions will decide their next steps.

A joint statement signed by Ajaero and Okon after the meeting read in part, “The Government’s proposal of a paltry N48,000 (forty-eight thousand Naira} as the Minimum Wage does not only insult the sensibilities of Nigerian workers but also falls significantly short of meeting our needs and aspirations.

“In contrast the Organised Private Sector (OPS) proposed an initial offer of N54 ,000 (fifty-four thousand Naira) though it is worth noting that even the least paid workers in the private sector receives N78,000 (seventy-eight thousand Naira per month) as clearly stated by the OPS, highlighting the stark disparity between the proposed and prevailing standards further demonstrating the minimum wage unwillingness of Employers and Government to faithfully negotiate a fair National Minimum Wage for Workers in Nigeria.

“Furthermore, the Government’s failure to provide any substantiated data to support their offer exacerbates the situation. This lack of transparency and good faith undermines the credibility of the negotiation process and erodes trust between the parties involved.

“As representatives of Nigerian workers, we cannot in good conscience accept a wage proposal that would result in a reduction in income for federal-level workers who are already receiving N30,000 (thirty thousand Naira) as mandated by law, augmented by Buhari’s 40% Peculiar allowance (N12,000) and the N35,000 (thirty-five thousand Naira) wage award, totaling N77,000 (seventyseven thousand Naira) only.

“Such a regressive step would undermine the economic well-being of workers and their families and is unacceptable in a National Minimum Wage Fixing process.”

The NLC and TUC had proposed a minimum wage of N615,000, citing the high cost of living. This figure was reached after consultations between the unions. They argued that the current minimum wage of N30,000 is insufficient and noted that not all governors are even paying this amount, which is set to expire soon.

The unions have repeatedly called on President Bola Tinubu’s administration to review the wage awards. In January, the Federal Government set up a 37-member Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage to recommend a new minimum wage.

There was hope that a new minimum wage would be announced on May 1 during Workers’ Day, but this did not happen.

However, the government assured workers that the new wage, once agreed upon, would be retroactive to May 1, 2024.

Minister of State for Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, expressed regret that the new wage was not ready by Workers’ Day but assured that consultations are ongoing to finalize it as soon as possible.

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