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Osifo: We Are Open To Negotiations With The Government Regarding The N615,000 Minimum Wage Proposal, We Are Not Forcing Our Position

“We expect a counter offer regarding the proposed minimum wage. We are open to conversations,” says RUC president Festus Osifo.

The president of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Festus Osifo, has said that the proposed minimum wage of 615,000 naira is open to negotiation from the government and a counter offer is expected.

Osifo mentioned this in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Wednesday when asked about the feasibility of such an amount being paid as minimum wage to Nigerian workers. He assured that the TUC is open to conversations and bargaining with the government.

“The amount that we put forward, in reality we also understand from organised labor, when you are going for collective bargaining agreement, you would do your study, you know what is practically feasible and possible, you’ve done your analysis. What we have put forward is what we think will be the living wage and we have justification for that. But it is negotiations. When you go into negotiations, we are also expecting a counter offer from the government side. They will tell us no we can not pay 615,000, maybe what we could pay, let’s assume is 300,000 naira. We enter into conversations. We are open to have conversations. We are not forcing our position that government must implement, either take it or leave it, no. But it is a negotiation, so we bring all our negotiation experts and tools to the table, we try to make government understand why they must make the workers priority.”

He made these remarks after he complained about governors constantly making failed promises with regard to the increase of the minimun wage for workers, adding that despite the reassurances of various state governors to look into the matter, a lot of states in Nigeria are still struggling to pay the currrent minimum wage for workers.

“Every workers day, you have governors coming to the podium and making big announcements, but when you leave there, how many of these announcements are sought through? How many of them do see the light of the day?

“When you listen to those comments, you would be thinking that yes you have a lot of big statements coming up. Regrettably, over the years, we just see this as majorly rhetorics. I’m sorry to say but that is what it is. It’s just like a sound bite.

“In TUC, we did NEC meeting about a week ago. So we did an analysis across each state of the federation. If you remember when we signed the agreement with federal government on October 2nd last year that has the provision of wage award. We asked the various states to liaise with their respective state governors and see what could be done on how they will bring about the 35,000 naira wage award. Most of these states did nothing. Few states did. A state like Lagos, a State like Oyo. We had some states that actually did. But you have some states that did literally nothing. Some said they couldn’t do 35,000, so some were doing 20,000 in addition to whatsoever they were paying. For us it was abysmal but it was even better than the states that did nothing.”

Osifo added that the government needs to fulfill its obligation to workers instead of constantly neglecting their needs and making excuses for why they can not be properly cared for.

“As at today, if you look at it, the cost of the government, the laptops, it has gone up. The cars that they buy every day, it has gone up. You will see most of these governors, they will not go to manufacturers of cars and tell them that we are poor states so we cannot afford the cars. You will see that today the tools that they use in working, they cannot go to those manufacturers and tell them that we cannot afford it. They have to rise up and meet that obligation. But when it comes to those that are the most critical in the value chain, those that are the most critical in terms of factors of production, that is labor, that is the workers, they will start giving excuses on how they will not be able to deliver. But these governors during their campaign rallies they tell us lots of stories. How they are going to increase internally generated revenues, how their state would be the best in terms of whatsoever in the world. But when they come in, they start lamentation. So all we say is that the governors, you must put on your thinking cap. The reason why I’m particular about the governors is because they are relatively dragging us back telling us that when you have a good minimum wage, its going to cause inflation.

Melissa Enoch

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