• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

NLC mulls review of demand of N56,000 minimum wage  

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There are indications the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) will seek to review its earlier N56,000 national minimum wage demand on the Federal Government early in the year, on the account of the recent increase in official pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS – petrol) from N86.50 to N145 per litre.

Ayuba Wabba-led faction of the NLC supported by Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria had in April this year proposed to the Federal Government to review the national minimum wage from N18,000 to N56,000. On the other hand, the Joe Ajaero faction, made a higher proposal of N90,000 as minimum wage.

However, in the wake of the unsuccessful nationwide protests by the Wabba faction over the petrol price increase, following the liberalisation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry in May this year, the Federal Government agreed to set up two committees to address labour’s concerns.

They were palliatives and national minimum wage review committees. While the palliatives committee was inaugurated on June 2, the minimum wage review committee to comprise of labour, employer representatives and government officials, had not been constituted. The N18,000 minimum wage, which came into force in 2011, with a five-year life tenure, by law, is due for a review.

There are views, however, that it will be difficult for President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to sign into the N56,000 wage increase demanded by labour given the slide in government finances, especially at the state level where salaries of workers have become irregular due to the shortfall from federal allocation.

But as even the government plays the waiting game with the setting up of wage review committee, the Wabba faction of the NLC is bringing in a fresh argument. According to him, events in the country particularly the petrol price increase have rubbished their N56,000 earlier demand.

“Even before the fall-out from the increase in the pump price of petrol, the NLC with TUC formally submitted a proposal to government for a new minimum wage.

This action was informed by the fact that a new minimum wage was legally due after five years, and couple with this, inflation and major devaluations of the Naira had rendered the N18,000 minimum wage unrealistic.

Without the slightest intention to pre-empt the direction of discussion, realistic minimum wage at the moment will have to take on board the recent complications created by the N145 pump price of petroleum product and the floatation of the Naira as an economic policy and their aftermath. The earlier figure (N56,000) by NLC and TUC may have been rendered inappropriate by these recent developments,” Wabba said in a statement on Monday.