• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Minimum wage negotiations inconclusive, says Ajaero as presidency debunks N105,000 proposal rumour


Few days to the expiration of the five-day ultimatum given by the organised labour for the federal government to come up with acceptable minimum wage figure, negotiations remain inclusive as government officials failed to present its proposal to the tripartite committee.

Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), speaking with journalists after the meeting of the tripartite committee on Thursday, revealed that the federal government was yet to present any report, including a new proposal, adding that “ the committee is still working, so, when they finish, Nigerians will get the report”.

The NLC President who appears disappointed, said the federal government team is yet to submit its template as directed, to the committee of the whole house.

“They didn’t present any report or proposal to the whole house, they presented it to the committee of the house and as you can see, they are still working on it.

Read also: Minimum wage: Edun submits report to Tinubu, assures workers of “good figure”

He however expressed hopes that the government team will make the presentations tomorrow Friday to the whole house for deliberation.

On whether the issues will be resolved by Friday, Ajaero said “ that is a wish to all of us, that is our prayer”.

The NLC President also dismissed speculations that the government has offered N105,000 as minimum wage.

“Such information is not before us, either officially or unofficially. We are still at our position before now and I know that government having not presented their own position, they are still at where they were before now,” he said.

“So, until it is made public and discussed, we cannot say that they have a position.”

This position was also corroborated by Bayo Onanuga, the Special Adviser to the President on Communication and Strategy.

Onanuga, on his X handle, urged Nigerians to disregard the information as there is no truth in it.

Wale Edun, the minister of finance, and voordinating minister of the economy, had early on Thursday, presented a to President Bola Tinubu containing the cost implications of the new the new minimum wage.

Edun who was accompanied by Atiku Bagudu, the minister of budget and national planning left the President’s office at about 12.45 pm, after submitting the report.

The Ministers who however declined comments on the figures, said ” No cause for alarm”.

Pressed further, Edun simply urged Nigerians to “expect a good figure”.

BusinessDay gathered that the team moved from the Presidential Villa to the venue of the Tripartite Committee meeting on Minimum Wage, where they are expected to unveil the new figure.

Read also: Minimum Wage: Tinubu meets FG team as committee shelves talks, embarks on consultations

President Tinubu had on Tuesday, gave Edun 48 hours ultimatum to come up with the cost implications of the new Minimum Wage.

Recall that the Organised Labour had on Tuesday called off its indefinite nationwide strike, to allow the government come up with a figure that will be acceptable to all the parties.

Labour had earlier declared the strike to press home their demands for a minimum wage, that will help to reduce the effect of economic hardship caused by fuel subsidy removal that had raised annual inflation rate 33.69%, highest in nearly 3 decades, forcing prices to continue on upward trajectory creating unbearably hunger in the country.

In their analysis, they noted that food inflation had hit 40.53% in April, the highest in more than 15 years, as Nigerians now pay 114% more for a bag of rice, 107% more for a bag of flour, and 150% more in transport fares relative to May 2023.

“Today, in some locations, motorists are paying 305% more for a litre of fuel, at a minimum wage of N30,000, an equivalent of US$23 per month, making Nigerian workers among the lowest paid in the world.

Labour while also kicking against the electricity tariffs hike, indicated that the average price of diesel has doubled to N1,600 per litre.

Electricity tariff was increased by 250% from N68/Kwh to N206/Kwh, increasing the operating cost of the manufacturing sector by about 70%

Based on these premise, labour came up with a minimum wage of N615,000 per worker, per month.

This was however reduced to N494,000 in the course of the negotiations at the meetings of the 37 member tripartite committee on national minimum wage.

The federal government in response to the labour position, initially offered N54,000, which was rejected by labour.

The government however increased the figure to N57,000, before finally settling for N60,000.

Labour, in their response described the Federal Government offers, as “ a very paltry sum which in real inflation and naira value is far below the current national minimum wage, in one word – backward increase of the national minimum wage.

According to Labour, “ The disposition of the Federal Government to the national minimum wage negotiation smacks of a class war indicative of the intents of a privileged few to wilfully pauperize and enslave the mass of our people. This attitude is further exemplified by the failure of the Federal Government to diligently implement the so-called wage award it promised workers as a palliative to petrol price hike. The payments which were made spasmodically has totally dried up since this February”.

Read also: The many dimensions of a living wage

Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani), Nigerian civil rights activist and Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, in his assessment of the ongoing negotiations, said it is mandatory for the federal government to approve a minimum wage that will alleviate the sufferings of the Nigeria workers.

Musa who noted that Labour has so far demonstrated goodwill and maturity in the handing of the ongoing minimum wage negotiations, stated that labour relaxed the strike to allow the government enough time to reflect on terms of reference.

He noted that federal government policies have drawn the country into chaos.
He also advised the organised private sector to brace up to pay what he said should be a living wage, as the environment is not as bad as they make it look.

“These companies declare huge profits every year, yet they say they cannot pay good salaries. That is not fair. We appeal to them to consider the plight of the masses, because when their purchasing power is high, they can also affect the economy through consumption.

“The government must reduce wastes, looting of public funds and demonstrate goodwill. A good wage is not above this government” he said.