FG to Labour: Shelve strike, resume negotiations

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The Federal Government has appealed to leaders of the Organised Labour to call off the ongoing industrial strike and resume negotiations on the contentious national minimum wage.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, assured of government’s commitment to work with other stakeholders in order to arrive at a “realistic” minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

An indefinite strike called by the Organised Labour led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) took effect Monday, following the stalling of negotiations with the Federal Government on the vexed issue.

Asking the Labour to reconsider its stance, Idris said,”This is a heartfelt and deeply considered appeal to the Labour Unions to continue along the path of negotiations with the Federal and State Governments, under the auspices of the Tripartite Committee that has been established to fashion out a new, realistic minimum wage for the Nigerian people.”

Countering the Labour’s claims that the Federal Government is not giving the minimum wage issue its desired attention, the Minister added, “As Government, we are desirous of a peaceful outcome, and we will do everything to make this (national minimum wage) happen. Yesterday, the leadership of the National Assembly met with the Unions. Today, we have offered another invitation to the Unions, to meet with us and continue our discussions.

“We will continue to engage, and continue to make ourselves very available in the context of these negotiations on behalf of the Nigerian people. Let me make it clear that we are not opponents on this negotiating table. We are united by the fact that we want the best for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and for all 200 million citizens of the country.

“We have a responsibility to strike a measured and realistic balance, in this effort to arrive at a new minimum wage for Nigerians.”

Describing the minimum wage being proposed by Labour as unrealistic, which could cripple the economy, Idris added, “Let us remind ourselves of the fundamental facts: the minimum wage is not only for public sector workers. It will be binding on the private sector as well. This reality must be factored into the negotiations.

“As I have explained earlier, Labour’s current proposal of N494,000 is an increase of 1,547 percent on the existing wage, and translates into an annual wage bill of N9.5 trillion naira for the Federal Government of Nigeria alone.

“This is apart from its cost implications for subnational governments and private sector employees. Such a wage bill would cripple the Nigerian economy, by leading to massive job losses especially in the private sector. The National Consumer Credit Scheme and the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) are additional significant demonstrations of a determination to bring relief to the people of Nigeria.

“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 increased 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.”


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