Labour unions leave minimum wage talks ; slam FG

The Trade Union Congress and Nigeria Labour Congress, two labour unions, have left the government and the organised private sector’s continuing minimum wage talks.

Visibly irate over the Federal Government’s proposal for a nationwide minimum salary of N48,000, the labour unions called the offer ludicrous.

The administration is not serious about bargaining with the Labour Party on the new minimum wage, according to NLC President Joe Ajaero.

“The government’s suggestion of a pitiful N48,000 (forty-eight thousand Naira) as the minimum wage is not only offensive to Nigerian workers’ sensibilities but also falls well short of our expectations and necessities.

The Organised Private Sector (OPS) on the other hand, made an initial offer of N54,000 (fifty-four thousand Naira), although it is important to note that even the lowest paid workers in the private sector receive N78,000 (seventy-eight thousand Naira per month), as the OPS made clear. This highlights the glaring difference between the proposed and prevailing standards and further demonstrates the minimum wage unwillingness of employers and the government to faithfully negotiate a fair national minimum wage for workers in Nigeria.

To make matters worse, the government has not offered any credible statistics to back up its claim. The legitimacy of the negotiating process and the confidence amongst the parties concerned are undermined by this lack of openness and goodwill.

“As representatives of Nigerian workers, we cannot in good conscience support a wage proposal that would lower the income of federal-level workers who are already receiving N30,000 (thirty thousand Naira) as required by law, increased by Buhari’s 40% peculiar allowance (N12,000) and the N35,000 (thirty-five thousand Naira) wage award, totaling N77,000 (seventy-seven thousand Naira) only. The unions said following the meeting that such a regressive action would jeopardise the financial security of workers and their families and is intolerable in a national minimum wage fixing process.

According to Ajaero, the government has till the end of the month to make a choice and Labour will decide when the ultimatum expires. The FG does not have the data required to engage with Labour.

Deputy President Mr. Tommy Okon is representing the Trade Union Congress at the meeting.

Citing the exorbitant cost of living as the benchmark, the NLC and TUC suggested on May 1 that the federal government pay Nigerian workers the N615,000 minimum wage.

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