• Monday, July 15, 2024
businessday logo


Wage demand: FG urges labour to safeguard economy, save jobs

FG steps down Works Ministry’s memos as amendment begins on BPP Act

Mohammed Idris, the minister of information and national orientation has appealed to organised labour to agree on a national minimum wage that balances the need for fair wages without jeopardising the economy or resulting in widespread job losses.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) are insisting on N250,000 as minimum wage, down from their initial demand of N615,000.

But speaking at the 2024 Synod of the Charismatic Bishops Conference of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday, Idris emphasised the importance of a realistic and sustainable wage system that meets workers’ needs while aligning with the country’s economic conditions.

He acknowledged the government’s commitment to reviewing the minimum wage but cautioned against demands that could harm the economy.

He highlighted the government’s efforts to reduce the cost of living and increase Nigerians’ purchasing power through programs like the Presidential CNG initiative, which aims to cut transportation costs by 50 percent.

According to him, “As I have repeatedly said, the Federal Government is not opposed to the increase of wages for Nigerian workers but we keep on advocating for a realistic and sustainable wage system for the workers – a wage system that will not undermine the economy, lead to mass retrenchment of workers and jeopardise the welfare of about 200 million Nigerians.

“We want the labour unions to understand that the relief that Nigerians are expecting, and that they fully deserve, will not come only in the form of an increase in wages.

“It will also come as efforts to reduce the cost of living and to ensure that more money stays in the pockets of Nigerians. And this is where programs like the Presidential CNG initiative come in. By replacing or complementing petrol usage with CNG, that program alone will cut transportation costs by as much as 50 percent.”

The minister appealed to the clergymen to support President Bola Tinubu’s vision for Nigeria’s renaissance and pray for wisdom and guidance as the country navigates its current challenges.

“Indeed, the church, throughout our nation’s history, has been a steadfast partner to the government in championing social causes and the provision of essential social services such as hospitals and schools, as well as the inculcation of values in our citizens.

“Even as we go through the temporary but necessary hardship, the president is not resting on his oars. He is determined to ensure that as many relief and palliative measures as possible are rolled out for the benefit of every segment of the Nigerian population.

“Now, this is where you, as clergy, as deeply respected religious leaders and influential voices, come in. As a government, we need your support, your advice, and your feedback.

“Very importantly also we need you to be aware of the efforts being made, and the challenges being faced, so that you can help us communicate these to your congregations and the general public.”

Noting that President Tinubu stepped into power at the most challenging time for Nigeria, Idris said that the president was working to ensure sustainable development across the country.

“There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Mr. President stepped up with a great sense of courage and responsibility. In the last year he has been implementing crucial and comprehensive reforms aimed at steering our country back onto the path of growth, prosperity, and sustainable development.

“President Tinubu has never shied away from acknowledging the reality of these pains. In his Democracy Day address delivered to the nation, President Tinubu summed it up very aptly: “The reforms we have initiated are intended to create a stronger, better foundation for future growth.

“There is no doubt the reforms have occasioned hardship. Yet, they are necessary repairs required to fix the economy over the long run so that everyone has access to economic opportunity, fair pay, and compensation for his endeavour and labour.”

Earlier, Arch-Bishop Leonard Kawas, the national president of the Charismatic Bishop Conference, stated their commitment to partnering with the government to achieve its vision for Nigeria.

He said the group invited the minister, who is a Muslim, to declare their conference open, because they see in him as a detribalised Nigerian who harbours no religious differences.