Minimum wage: FG, Labour to negotiate N48,000 proposal Tuesday

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The Federal Government will on Tuesday resume negotiations with organised labour and other stakeholders on the N48,000 it proposed as the new national minimum wage.

Also, there are indications that the government might review the proposal upward.

The Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, Alhaji Bukar Goni, indicated this in a letter of invitation to labour leaders dated May 16, 2024, obtained by The PUNCH on Thursday.

This happened  24 hours after the leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress walked out on the minimum wage negotiation committee after the Federal Government offered to pay N48,000 as the new minimum wage.

The organised private Sector, on the other hand, proposed an initial offer of N54,000.After dumping the talks, the labour leaders addressed a press conference where they expressed their anger over the Federal Government’s offer.

The National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, insisted on N615,000 minimum wage, arguing that the amount was arrived at after an analysis of the current economic situation and the needs of an average Nigerian family of six.

He blamed the government and the OPS for the breakdown in negotiation, saying, “Despite earnest efforts to reach an equitable agreement, the less than reasonable action of the Government and the Organised Private Sector has led to a breakdown in negotiations.”

But speaking on behalf of the OPS, the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Mr Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, described unions’ walkout when negotiation had not started as unfortunate.

The NECA DG admonished the union leaders to reconsider their position and return to the negotiation table in the interest of their members and national development.

‘N48,000 not enough’

However, Ajaero justified their decision to abandon the negotiation, saying, “The government’s proposal of a paltry N48,000  as the minimum wage does not only insult the sensibilities of Nigerian workers but also falls significantly short of meeting our needs and aspirations.

“Though it is worth noting that even the least paid workers in the private sector receive N78,000 as clearly stated by the OPS, highlighting the stark disparity between the proposed minimum wage and prevailing standards further demonstrating the unwillingness of employers and Government to faithfully negotiate a fair national minimum wage for workers in Nigeria.’’

He accused the government of failing to provide data to support its offer, noting that this undermined the credibility of the negotiation.

“Furthermore, the government’s failure to provide any substantiated data to support their offer exacerbates the situation. This lack of transparency and good faith undermines the credibility of the negotiation process and erodes trust between the parties involved.

“As representatives of Nigerian workers, we cannot in good conscience accept a wage proposal that would result in a reduction in income for federal-level workers who are already receiving N30,000  as mandated by law, augmented by Buhari’s 40 per cent peculiar allowance (N12,000) and the N35,000 wage award, totalling N77,000 only.

“Such a regressive step would undermine the economic well-being of workers and their families and is unacceptable in a National Minimum Wage fixing process.”

The NLC president noted that the unions remained committed to fighting for the rights and interests of Nigerian workers.

He also called on the government to reconsider its position and come to the negotiation table with, “clear hands that reflect the true value of the contributions made by Nigerian workers to the nation’s development and the objective socioeconomic realities that confront not just Nigerian workers but Nigerians today as a result of the policies of the Federal Government.”

Responding to Ajaero’s appeal, the tripartite committee chairman in his letter asked the labour leaders to return to the negotiation table for continuation of the negotiations.

Goni, a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, indicated the willingness of the government to shift grounds on its N48,000 offer.

The letter was titled, ‘Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage: Negotiation.’

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