The National Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria’s umbrella labour union, has issued a stark warning, raising the possibility of demanding a staggering ₦1 million minimum wage per month if the nation’s economic woes persist.
In a hard-hitting interview with Arise TV on Sunday, NLC President Joe Ajaero painted a grim picture of escalating inflation and a depreciating Naira, emphasizing their direct impact on wage demands. He stressed that previous wage negotiations were anchored on similar economic indicators, and the current situation necessitates a significant revision.
Highlighting the gravity of the situation, Ajaero drew attention to the stark difference between past negotiations and the present reality. Essential commodities like rice, he pointed out, now cost a staggering ₦60,000-₦70,000 per bag, placing them beyond the reach of many workers. This dire situation, he warned, could trigger widespread discontent and potential strike actions if left unaddressed.
With the shadow of industrial action looming large, the NLC and its partner, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), are set to meet with federal government representatives today to seek solutions following a 14-day strike ultimatum. The unions accuse the government of reneging on past agreements, particularly regarding temporary wage increases for workers. Ajaero specifically cited the incomplete implementation of the ₦35,000 temporary wage increase for federal workers, introduced in October 2023.
Further deepening the unions’ concerns are the alleged non-disbursement of ₦25,000 palliatives to workers and the lack of evidence of fertiliser distribution to farmers. Against this backdrop, the current minimum wage of ₦30,000 appears woefully inadequate, prompting the NLC’s unprecedented wage demands.