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We’ll Not Back Down Says Labour Unions, Insist May 31 Deadline for Federal Government Demands

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Afor Kenneth

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), representing organized labor, have reaffirmed their ultimatum to the Federal Government to address all their demands by May 31, 2024.

These demands include implementing a new national minimum wage and reversing the increase in electricity tariffs.

This ultimatum was issued following an emergency meeting held on Monday by the National Executive Councils (NEC) of both the NLC and TUC, which was convened to address urgent national issues impacting Nigerian workers.

During the meeting, the labor leaders discussed several issues, including the ongoing failure of some state governments to comply with the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act.

In a resolution signed by NLC President Joe Ajaero and TUC leader Festus Osifo, the unions also instructed their members in Anambra State to prepare for industrial action if the state government fails to meet workers’ demands by May 23, 2024.

“The NEC acknowledges the ongoing negotiations between the NLC/TUC, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and the federal government regarding the new national minimum wage. While appreciating the efforts made thus far, the NEC emphasizes the urgency of reaching a fair and equitable agreement that reflects the true value of Nigerian workers’ contributions to the nation’s development and the current crisis of survival facing Nigerians as a result of government’s policies.

“The NEC affirms its commitment to ensuring that the interests and welfare of workers are adequately protected in the negotiation process. The NEC-in-session therefore reiterates the ultimatum issued by the NLC and TUC to the federal government, which expires on the last day of this month.

“It emphasizes the non-negotiable nature of the demands put forth by Nigerian workers and urges the government to prioritize the resolution of these issues in the best interest of industrial peace.

“NEC-in-session further directed all state Councils whose state Governments are yet to fully implement the N30,000 (Thirty-thousand Naira) National Minimum Wage and its consequential adjustments to issue immediately a joint two-week ultimatum to the culpable state Governments to avert industrial action.

“Consequently, the NEC-in-session accordingly reaffirms the NLC and TUC joint ultimatum earlier issued the Anambra state government by its Anambra state councils. It therefore directed all affiliates and workers in the state council to mobilize their members to ensure a successful action in the event the state government fails to meet the demands of workers by Thursday, the 23rd of May, 2024,” the unions so resolved.

Overtnews recalls last week, labor unions walked out of minimum wage negotiations with the government after the Federal Government proposed a N48,000 minimum wage.

The labor unions criticized the proposal, calling it inadequate.

NLC President Joe Ajaero expressed that the government was not serious about negotiating a new minimum wage. TUC President Festus Osifo also rejected the proposal, stating that it was senseless since the lowest-paid federal workers are already earning about N77,000. He called the N48,000 proposal “abysmal.”

On April 14, the organized labor demanded a new minimum wage of N615,000 to help workers cope with the economic challenges and high cost of living in Nigeria.

The unions argued that the current minimum wage of N30,000 is insufficient for the average Nigerian worker, noting that not all state governors are complying with this wage, which expired in April 2024, five years after the 2019 Minimum Wage Act was signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari. The Act mandates a review every five years to align with the contemporary economic demands of workers.

The NLC and TUC have repeatedly urged President Bola Tinubu’s administration to expedite the review of wage awards.

In January, the Federal Government established a 37-member Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage to recommend a new national minimum wage.

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