• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Strike imminent as Labour walks out on FG over N48,000 minimum wage proposal

The Nigeria Labour Congress NLC and the Trade Union Congress TUC, on Wednesday, walked out of the Tripartite Minimum Wage Committee’s meeting in protests against the N48,000 proposal by the federal government.

Recall that the organised labour had last year, threatened to embark on strike over the difficulties faced by Nigerians as a result of the federal government economic policies, especially the fuel subsidy removal that led to high cost of living across the country.

The threats forced President Bola Tinubu to introduce the N35,000 wage increase across board for federal government workers, effective from September, 2923, which was to last for six months.

Read also: Minimum Wage: FG committee meets to consider final reports today

The 37 man federal government tripartite committee on Minimum Wage, which was set up to review the subsisting N30,000 Minimum Wage, had met in Abuja on Wednesday, to consider final reports of the various subcommittees on the new national minimum wage.

The meeting was called to consider reports of various committees o the new minimum wage recommendations, as well as set up a sub committee that will draft the final report to be presented to the federal executive council FEC.

Other issues lined up for deliberations at the meeting which took place at the Nicon Luxury Hotel Abuja, include sanctions for violations and procedures for reporting violations.

The tripartite committee had also received reports on the survey of the informal sector of the economy, 2023, as well as those of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission NSIWC.

But Joe Ajaero, said the N48,000 bring dangled by the federal government was a far cry from the N615,000 earlier proposed by the organised labour as the new Minimum Wage.

Following the development, the NLC and the TUC, expressed profound disappointment as negotiations at the Tripartite National Minimum Wage reached an unfortunate impasse, following what they described, as “ apparent unseriousness of the Government to engage in reasonable negotiation with Nigerian workers”

A joint statement signed by Joe Ajaero NLC and Tommy Okon of the TUC, labour noted that “earnest efforts to reach an equitable agreement, the less than reasonable action of the Government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) has led to a breakdown in negotiations”

The organised labour said 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, however, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) proposed an initial offer of N54,000 (fifty-four thousand Naira)

Labour said however, that “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 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”

Labour said the government failure to provide any substantiated data to support their offer exacerbates the situation, adding that “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 (seventy-seven 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.

“In light of these developments, and in order to prevent the negotiation of a wage deduction, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have taken the decision to walk out of the negotiation process.

They also expressed their commitments to advocating for the rights and interests of Nigerian workers and will continue to engage in reasonable dialogue with the Government if they show serious commitment to find a fair and sustainable resolution to this impasse.

They therefore, called on the federal government to “reconsider its position and come to the negotiation table with clear hands that reflects the true value of the contributions made by Nigerian workers to the nation’s development and the objective socioeconomic realities that confronts not just Nigerian workers but Nigerians today as a result of the policies of the federal government.

“Together, in a reasonable dialogue, we can work to give Nigerian workers a N615,000 National Minimum wage as proposed by us on the basis of evidence and Data. This will be in keeping with the pledge of the President; his Excellency Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s pledge to ensure a Living wage for Nigerian workers”.

They Nigeria Labour Congress NLC, had, on the 1st of May, 2024, recommended a new minimum wage of N615,000, which it said was arrived at, after painstakingly computing the monthly cost of living of Nigerian workers, with food, transportation taking the lion share.

The computation released by the NLC, shows that at N9,000 per day, a person is expected to spend as much as N270,000 in 30 days.

Each worker is also projected to spend as much as N110,000, every month on transportation in a month.

The Union said the figure was a product of a painstaking effort through which we captured the cost of living of Nigerian workers and masses in all parts of the country.

The NLC explained that the N615,000 was arrived at after an independent research, with respondents across the 36 states of the federation where the union has its affiliates.

Read also: Food, transport, take lion share, as NLC doubles down on N615,000 wage proposal

“It was essentially an outcome of an independent research conducted by the NLC and TUC on the cost of meeting the primary needs of an average family around the country. Our research was based on a family with both parents alive and four children without the burden of having other dependents with them.

“A questionnaire was designed and sent to all the State Councils of NLC and TUC from where these questionnaires were sent to our members in all the Local government areas in the country to gather the monthly cost of living for the average family as described above. Below is a summary of our findings and we hope that this will enable Nigerians understand what propels our demand so that better clarity is made to create better engagement around the ongoing National Minimum Wage Negotiation process.

The NLC said it deliberately omitted certain elements from the basket used in calculating the N615,000, such as call data, church or mosque offerings, community dues, entertainment, savings and security, amongst others.

“It should also be noted that we have not included things like expenditure on calls and data, offerings in churches and Mosques, community dues, entertainment, savings and Security etc. These are therefore just for the bare necessities.

“We arrived at this figure before the increase in electricity tariff and the recent scarcity of Petrol across the nation leading to the appearance of long queues with attendant increased transport fares. Any figure below this amount becomes a starvation wage and condemns Nigerian workers and their families to perpetual poverty.

“We have to remember that the old one having expired on the 18th day of April, 2024, a new one was expected to have come into effect on the 19th day of April, 2024. However, because of government’s inability to comply with the Law that demanded for negotiations for a new national minimum wage to have begun six months before the expiration of the existing one, concluding the new one has become unfortunately delayed.

“We are sure that our social partners would see our demonstration of understanding, sacrifice and reasonableness in our demands thus accepts this figure without much delay. We also enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to implore the Government and Employers to meet our demands for the sake of justice, equity and national development”.

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