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Labour Sets May 31 Deadline for Minimum Wage Deal as Talks Resume

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The Federal Government and organized labour are set to resume national minimum wage negotiations today.

On Monday, the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) met and reaffirmed their stance that the national minimum wage discussions must be concluded by May 31. This decision was communicated in a statement signed by Comrade Festus Osifo, TUC President, and Comrade Joe Ajaero, NLC President.

Previously, labour leaders walked out of the tripartite committee meeting after the Federal Government proposed a N48,000 minimum wage, significantly below the N615,000 demanded by the unions. The Organized Private Sector (OPS) had offered a starting proposal of N54,000. Following the collapse of negotiations, union leaders held a press conference to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s offer.

Comrade Ajaero argued that a N615,000 minimum wage is necessary, reflecting the needs of the average Nigerian family and the current economic situation. He criticized the government for failing to provide verified data to support its proposal.

“The government’s proposal of N48,000 as the minimum wage not only insults Nigerian workers but also falls significantly short of meeting our needs and aspirations,” Ajaero stated. He noted that even the lowest-paid private sector workers earn N78,000, highlighting the disparity and the government’s reluctance to negotiate fairly.

Alhaji Bukar Goni, Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, has called for another round of negotiations, indicating that the government might increase its offer. Goni mentioned that government representatives hinted at a possible concession.

The unions stressed the urgency of reaching a fair agreement that acknowledges the value of Nigerian workers and addresses the economic challenges they face. The NEC reaffirmed its commitment to protecting workers’ welfare and interests throughout the negotiation process.

“The NEC reiterates the ultimatum issued by the NLC and TUC to the federal government, which expires on May 31. It emphasizes the non-negotiable nature of the demands put forth by Nigerian workers and urges the government to resolve these issues to maintain industrial peace,” the statement read.

The NEC also directed state councils where the N30,000 National Minimum Wage has not been fully implemented to issue a two-week ultimatum to state governments to avoid industrial action. The NEC specifically reaffirmed the ultimatum issued to the Anambra State government, directing workers to mobilize if demands are not met by May 23, 2024.

The NEC authorized the NLC and TUC leadership to take necessary actions, including organizing protests and industrial actions, if the government fails to meet the demands within the given timeframe. 

“NEC calls on all affiliate unions, workers, and civil society organizations to remain united and steadfast during this critical period. Together, we will prevail in our pursuit of a fair and just society that guarantees the dignity and well-being of all citizens,” the statement concluded.

TUC National Deputy President Comrade Tommy Etim emphasized, “We held a meeting today (Monday) ahead of negotiations, and we are insisting on the May 31 deadline.” He blamed the government and the OPS for the breakdown in negotiations, citing their unreasonable actions.

Etim confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria that organized labour would attend the next meeting of the tripartite committee, scheduled for Tuesday, where they plan to present their demands. President Tinubu, through Vice President Kashim Shettima, inaugurated the 37-member Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage on January 30, 2024, to establish a new minimum wage before the current N30,000 wage expires on April 18.

 

 

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