• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Minimum wage: Talks resume today as labour insists on May 31 deadline

Labour unions

The Federal Government and labour unions will reconvene on Tuesday (today) to discuss the national minimum wage.

Ahead of the meeting, leaders from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) met on Monday, deciding that negotiations must conclude by May 31.

Following their joint National Executive Council meeting, Joe Ajaero, the NLC president and Festus Osifo, the TUC president issued a communique demanding adherence to the May 31 deadline.

Recall that Labour representatives left the previous tripartite committee meeting after the government proposed an N48,000 minimum wage, countering labour’s N615,000 suggestion. The Organised Private Sector initially offered N54,000.

Labour leaders, dissatisfied with the government’s proposal, held a press conference to express their concerns.

NLC President Ajaero maintained the stance on an N615,000 minimum wage, stating it considers the economic climate and the necessities of a typical Nigerian family.

He criticised the government for not providing data to back its offer, questioning the negotiation’s integrity.

Ajaero justified the decision to exit the talks, citing the government’s N48,000 offer as insufficient and not reflective of workers’ needs.

He noted that private sector workers earn at least N78,000, pointing out the gap between the government’s proposal and the existing standard.

He said, “The government’s proposal of a paltry N48,000 as the minimum wage does not only insult the sensibilities of Nigerian workers but also falls significantly short of meeting our needs and aspirations.

“Though it is worth noting that even the least paid workers in the private sector receive N78,000 as clearly stated by the OPS, highlighting the stark disparity between the proposed minimum wage and prevailing standards further demonstrating the unwillingness of employers and Government to faithfully negotiate a fair national minimum wage for workers in Nigeria.’’

To resume discussions, Bukar Goni, the Tripartite Committee chairman, invited the labour leaders for another negotiation session, suggesting the government might increase its previous offer.

The labour unions communique highlighted the need for an agreement that values Nigerian workers’ contributions and addresses the challenges posed by government policies.

The NEC confirmed its dedication to protecting workers’ interests in the negotiations.

It directed state councils to issue a two-week ultimatum to state governments that have not implemented the N30,000 National Minimum Wage and its adjustments.

The NEC reaffirmed the ultimatum to the Anambra State government and instructed workers to prepare for action if demands are not met by May 23, 2024.

“Consequently, the NEC-in-session accordingly reaffirms the NLC and TUC joint ultimatum earlier issued to the Anambra State government by its Anambra state councils. It, therefore, directed all affiliates and workers in the state council to mobilise their members to ensure a successful action in the event the state government fails to meet the demands of workers by Thursday, the 23rd of May, 2024.’’

“Should the government fail to meet the demands outlined within the stipulated timeframe, the NEC authorised the leadership of the NLC and TUC to take appropriate actions, including but not limited to the mobilisation of workers for peaceful protests and industrial actions, to press home these demands for social justice and workers’ rights,” the labour unions said in a statement issued on Monday evening.

The NEC called for unity among unions, workers, and civil society organizations to achieve a fair society.

The statement concluded with the NEC’s commitment to advocating for Nigerian workers’ rights.

“NEC therefore calls on all affiliate unions, and workers including civil society organisations across Nigeria to remain united and steadfast in solidarity during this critical period. Together, we shall prevail in our pursuit of a fair and just society that guarantees the dignity and well-being of all its citizens.

The NECs – in – session finally affirms its unwavering commitment to championing the cause of Nigerian workers and ensuring that their rights and interests are upheld at all times,’’ the statement read.

President Tinubu, through Vice President Kashim Shettima, established the Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage on January 30, 2024, to determine a new minimum wage.