• Monday, June 17, 2024
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BusinessDay

Minimum Wage: Expectations high as FG, Labour meet today

Angst, anxiety mount over news of fresh strike

Negotiations for a new national Minimum Wage resumes today, at the 7th meeting of the 37 members tripartite committee, in Abuja

Nigeria Labour Congress NLC and the Trade Union Congress TUC, had last week, rejected the N60000 fresh offer put forward by the federal government, heightening tension over a possible industrial action, as the May 31st deadline given by the organised labour expires today, Friday.

The development led to another walkout by the organised labour from the meeting of the committee meeting.

Tuesday’s walkout, the second in two weeks, signals danger for the new minimum wage negotiations as Labour had earlier given the federal government, up to the end of May, 2024 to come up with an acceptable wage.

Recall that the government had last week raised its offer from N54,000 to N57,000, which was also rejected by the organised labour.

BusinessDay gathered however that labour on Tuesday shifted from the N497,000 request to N495,000 as the new minimum wage, a figure, the government and members of the organised private sector believe is “ unrealistic”

Adewale-Smart Oyerinde, the Director General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association NECA, speaking for the organised private, had opined that for government to be able to pay workers, businesses need to survive and appealed to the NLC to accept N60,000, harping on sustainability as a major factor for supporting the federal government’s proposal
The government said with about 58 million Nigerians currently being engaged by the private sector, there is concerns that many Nigerians may lose their jobs if the Minimum wage is higher than what the OPS can afford

While the government and organised private sector team believe that the 100% increase from the previous N30,000 to N60,000, was good enough, Festus Osifo, speaking for the organised labour, disagreed, saying that the fuel subsidy removal and high rate of inflation which has led to over 300% devaluation of the naira, informed the NLC demand for N495,000 minimum wage

The government is saying that about 58 million Nigerians are currently being engaged by the private sector.
“ They are expressing concerns that many Nigerians may lose their jobs if the Minimum wage is higher than what the OPS can afford”

Labour therefore, urged government to be more responsive to the demands of the Nigerian workers, adding that government proposals did reflect the current economic realities

This is because they believe that the federal government has not demonstrated enough commitment to resolving the Minimum Wage issue

“ How can the government that says it has the interest of Nigeria’s workers at heart be offering N60,000 as new Minimum Wage, under the current economic conditions

“ Unlike other countries, working in Nigeria is making people poorer.

How can workers who pay N2,000 daily, or N40,000 monthly for transportation and assuming he spends just N2000 daily on food, amounting to N60,000 monthly. without a family, accepts to take N60,000 as minimum wage.
Already, food and transport have claimed N100,000, without adding, electricity , water, telephone, Medicals.

“The above calculation is for a man staying alone. What if he has a family, with children to cater for.

“Government must demonstrate good faith, we on our own, we are ready to meet them at the right point, but they must demonstrate responsibilities toNigerian workers

On the May 31st deadline, the Labour official who refused to have his name in print, said labour has not changed its plan.

“ If the government fails to ensure that we reach agreement on the new minimum wage by the 31st of May, we will meet and unveil our next line of action” he said

The NLC said the federal government has failed to build cost of living COLA, into the proposed minimum wage submitted by it, as it is applicable to other countries including Nigeria’s neighbour, Ghana.

BusinessDay however gathered that both the federal government and the organised private sector ops are on the same page on the Minimum wage issue.

Recall that the ops had earlier presented N57,000 which the government also adopted.
Sources close to the tripartite committee meeting told BusinessDay that the government has appealed to labour to reduce their demands to allow for a minimum wage that is affordable to all stakeholders.