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Nigeria: Labour Rejects FG’s N62,000 New Minimum Wage Offer, Demands N250,000

TUC President Osifo insists that N250,000 as the minimum wage aligns with current hardships.

The minimum wage talk by the Tripartite Committee was again deadlocked on Friday night after the organised labour rejected the federal government’s offer of N62,000, but demanded for N250,000 as new national minimum wage.

This was even as the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) earlier on Friday, stressed that the N60000 minimum wage previously proposed by the federal government was not sustainable and that States would not be able to pay the amount if approved.

THISDAY also learnt that while some members of the organised private sector (OPS) operating in the southern part of the country are willing to pay the N62,000 minimum wage proposed on Friday, those in the north have expressed concern over their inability to pay the proposed minimum wage if signed into law. Even the OPS members that are able to pay are confronted with challenges such as numerous taxes and levies, high inflation, forex scarcity, among others, which raising the minimum further could hurt their operations and could force them to sack their workers.

In the recommendation passed to the President on the Proposed New National Minimum Wage on Friday, the Tripartite Committee disclosed that it used all necessary parameters and applied the social, economic and political considerations, as well as relevant International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions and international best practices.

Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who addressed journalists after the meeting, said the OPS agreed on N62,000 while the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) insisted on the N250,000 as the minimum national wage.

He said they have forwarded the recommendation to President Bola Tinubu for further consideration.

“We are almost there. We are just about to sign the report and bring the matter to complete closure and every other thing will follow.

“The committee has worked so hard and has reached agreement. In the wisdom of the tripartite committee it put together a recommendation for Mr. President for further action.

“The organised private sector and the federal government agreed on N62,000 while the organised labour is still asking for N250,000.

“We are talking and we hope the atmosphere of hostility pervading in the country will be relaxed,” Uzodinma said.

He expressed hope that with the progress labour can now move on and save the country from embarrassment so that both government and Nigerians can move on to their respective businesses without wasting time.

But the President of TUC, Festus Osifo, deftly rejected the government offer, insisting that N250,000 which labour set as the minimum wage was in tandem with the current hardship and difficulty in the land.

“As reported by governor Uzodinma, that is the true position of things. As we are currently, the organised private sector and the federal government have recommended N62,000 as the minimum wage, but we felt that with the hardship in the and prevailing difficulty in the country, N250,000 is what is okay for us,”Osifo said. 

He also confirmed they had forwarded the report of the committee to Tinubu to make recommendations to the National Assembly in the national minimum wage Act, “while we will keep pushing for a wage that stands the test of the time in Nigeria.”

Also speaking last night, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, said he was gladdened that democracy had been exercised by labour, which participated and expressed different views.

He added that Tinubu was also encouraged by the development and would now focus on his work.

Meanwhile, the NGF yesterday said the N60000 minimum wage previously proposed by the federal government was not sustainable.

NGF’s Acting Director on Media Affairs and Public Affairs, Hajiya Halimah Salihu Ahmed, in a statement, urged all parties to consider the fact that minimum wage negotiations also involve consequential adjustments across all cadres, including pensioners.

The NGF cautioned all parties in the discussion to look beyond just signing a document for the sake of it, stating that any agreement to be signed should be sustainable and realistic.

“All things considered, the NGF holds that the N60,000 minimum wage proposal is not sustainable and cannot fly. It will simply mean that many states will spend all their FAAC allocations on just paying salaries with nothing left for development purposes.

“In fact, a few States will end up borrowing to pay workers every month. We do not think this will be in the collective interest of the country, including workers. 

“We appeal that all parties involved, especially the labour unions, consider all the socioeconomic variables and settle for an agreement that is sustainable, durable, and fair to all other segments of the society who have legitimate claim to public resources.”, the governors said

In a related development, the NLC has expressed disappointment over the recent comments made by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) regarding the nationwide strike embarked upon by the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). 

A statement signed by its Head of Information and Publicity, Mr. Benson Upah said the SGF’s characterisation of labour’s legitimate and constitutionally protected industrial action as a “treasonable felony” and “economic sabotage” is not only deeply troubling but also undermines the spirit of constructive dialogue necessary for resolving the ongoing issues.

It said the demands of the NLC and TUC were clear and just. 

“We seek the conclusion and signing into law of a new national minimum wage that is in sync with the realities of the cost of living, a reversal of the hike in electricity tariff to ₦65/kWh, and an end to the discriminatory classification of electricity consumers into bands.

“These demands are grounded in the need for economic justice and fairness for all Nigerian workers and citizens.

“The SGF we are sure clearly knows those whose actions are treasonable and sabotages our economy. Those who loot our treasury around the country, those who divert public resources meant for hospitals and schools; those who are involved in foreign exchange round-tripping; padding of budgets and inflating contracts including those who steal trillions of Naira in the name of subsidy are the real economic saboteurs who commit treasonable felony,” the NLC stated.

It added: “These people are in costly Agbada and drive in convoys all around the nation occupying the corridors of power and not innocent workers who are not slaves but chose to withdraw their services because of the inhuman treatment meted on them by the government.”

NLC said it was particularly disheartening that the SGF, a high-ranking government official, would make statements that trivialise the genuine grievances of Nigerian workers. 

“We reject completely the unfortunate insinuations around the SGF’s remarks because strikes are not only legal but also a civic duty. 

“We are surprised that the SGF will demonstrate such a glaring sense of unawareness to the understanding of the fact that when workers withdraw their services which is their right, machines cannot operate themselves so, they grind to a halt,” he said. 

The NLC said it remained committed to advocating for the rights and welfare of all Nigerian workers and will succumb any firm of intimidation.

Olawale Ajimotokan, Chuks Okocha and Onyebuchi Ezigbo 

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