HomeNEWSDeadlock As Labour Rejects Tinubu's N48,000 Minimum Wage Proposal

Deadlock As Labour Rejects Tinubu’s N48,000 Minimum Wage Proposal

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Afor Kenneth

The labour unions, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), have walked out of the ongoing minimum wage negotiations with the government and the Organised Private Sector.

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The unions were angered by the Federal Government’s proposal of a N48,000 national minimum wage, calling it ridiculous.

NLC President Joe Ajaero criticized the government’s approach, stating that it lacks the necessary data to negotiate effectively. He emphasized that the government is not taking the negotiations seriously and set an ultimatum for the end of the month for the government to make a decision. Otherwise, the labor unions will take their own actions.

The Trade Union Congress was represented at the meeting by its Deputy President, Mr. Tommy Okon.

A joint statement signed by Ajaero and Okon after the meeting read in part, “The Government’s proposal of a paltry N48,000 (forty-eight thousand Naira} as the Minimum Wage does not only insult the sensibilities of Nigerian workers but also falls significantly short of meeting our needs and aspirations.

“In contrast the Organised Private Sector (OPS) proposed an initial offer of N54 ,000 (fifty-four thousand Naira) though it is worth noting that even the least paid workers in the private sector receives N78,000 (seventy-eight thousand Naira per month) as clearly stated by the OPS, highlighting the stark disparity between the proposed and prevailing standards further demonstrating the minimum wage unwillingness of Employers and Government to faithfully negotiate a fair National Minimum Wage for Workers in Nigeria.

“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 (thirty thousand Naira) as mandated by law, augmented by Buhari’s 40% Peculiar allowance (N12,000) and the N35,000 (thirty-five thousand Naira) wage award, totaling N77,000 (seventyseven thousand Naira) 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.

It would be recalled that both the NLC and the TUC had jointly proposed a significant increase in the minimum wage, suggesting a monthly wage of N615,000 for Nigerian workers. This proposal stems from the pressing economic realities and the high cost of living in Nigeria.

On April 14, organized labor officially demanded the implementation of the N615,000 minimum wage to address the challenges faced by workers. The decision was reached after consultations between the NLC and TUC.

The labor unions argued that the current minimum wage of N30,000 is inadequate to meet the basic needs of the average Nigerian worker. They highlighted that not all governors have been adhering to the current wage award, which was set to expire in April, five years after the enactment of the Minimum Wage Act of 2019 by former President Muhammadu Buhari. The Act mandates a review of the minimum wage every five years to align with the contemporary economic demands faced by workers.

Both the NLC and TUC have consistently called on the government, including the administration of President Bola Tinubu, to expedite the process of raising wage awards.

Earlier in January, the Federal Government established a 37-member Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage with the task of recommending a new minimum wage for the country.

Despite expectations for a new minimum wage announcement during the Workers Day commemoration on May 1, the government assured workers that they would not lose out. The Minister of State for Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, guaranteed that whenever the new minimum wage is agreed upon, it will retroactively take effect from May 1, 2024.

Although the new national minimum wage was not finalized before May 1, the government emphasized ongoing consultations to ensure the timely completion of the document.

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