• Friday, February 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Tinubu prioritizes wage review, arrears to end labour unrest

Tinubu directs the recitation of the National Pledge at official engagements

To soothe simmering labour tensions, the Nigerian government has assured workers of swift action to settle arrears of the N35,000 wage award and expedite the review of the national minimum wage.

Minister of State for Labour and Employment Nkeiruka Onyejeocha delivered the conciliatory message during separate meetings with trade unions, emphasizing the government’s commitment to upholding agreements and fostering an amicable work environment.

Addressing concerns about delayed wage payments, Onyejeocha confirmed the resumption of the N35,000 award and pledged to clear outstanding arrears “within a short period.” Her proactive approach aimed to pre-empt further industrial action, highlighting the government’s “open lines of communication” and dedication to “partnership” with unions.

Acknowledging the unions’ anxieties surrounding the stalled minimum wage review, Onyejeocha assured them that President Bola Tinubu “is focused on making sure” the issue is tackled promptly.

She announced the imminent establishment of a dedicated committee to expedite the process, demonstrating the government’s “earnestness” in addressing workers’ concerns.

To bolster trust, Onyejeocha emphasized the government’s proactive engagement with labour representatives. “I do not want to wait for any stakeholder to start agitating,” she declared, underscoring the administration’s proactive approach to resolving outstanding issues. This includes past agreements, indicating a willingness to address grievances beyond the immediate wage concerns.

Appreciating the government’s conciliatory gestures, Trade Union Congress President Festus Osifo commended the progress made on certain agreements, citing the 80% fulfilment of the pact with road transport workers. However, he urged the government to prioritize concluding the remaining 20%, reiterating the unions’ commitment to constructive engagement rather than “holding [the government] to ransom.”

The government’s efforts to appease labour comes amidst heightened economic pressures, including the recent fuel subsidy removal, which triggered the N35,000 wage award as a temporary measure.

Balancing worker demands with fiscal constraints will be a crucial challenge for the Tinubu administration in the coming months.