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Minimum Wage: TUC Knocks ‘Unserious’ FG, Threatens Strike

For months, labour unions and the Federal Government have been locked in negotiations over a new minimum wage with the former giving an ultimatum of May 31st. 


FILES: Labour leaders Festus Osifo (second left) and Joe Ajaero (second right) at the 2024 Workers’ Day in Abuja

 

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has condemned what it described as the Federal Government’s nonchalant attitude over deliberations about a new minimum wage, threatening to strike if the issue is not resolved.

“The government must be very serious in addressing the issue of a new minimum wage,” the president of the TUC Festus Osifo said on Tuesday’s edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today. 

For months, labour unions and the Federal Government have been locked in negotiations over a new minimum wage with the former giving an ultimatum of May 31st.

Labour had initially demanded a  ₦615,000 minimum wage but reduced it twice – now at ₦494,000. The government and the organised private sector had initially proposed ₦48,000 and ₦54,000 which were also rejected by the labour.

READ ALSO: Labour Dumps FG’s Fresh ₦60,000 Wage Offer, Shifts To ₦494,000

‘We Completely Reject It’

During a meeting of the committee on minimum wage on Tuesday, labour rejected the Federal Government’s new minimum wage proposal.

According to Osifo, the new proposal does not tally with the nation’s economic realities. He said with Nigeria’s inflation rate of 33.69% as of April 2024 based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), labour had to “completely reject” the Federal Government’s latest offer of ₦60,000.

“So, for us, we completely reject it. We want the government to be serious. Let them come and give us a breakdown of how a family is going to live with the minimum wage of ₦60,000,” he said.

“Remember, our ultimatum still subsists that we have issued on May 1st and today is the 28th day of May. So, what that clearly means is that we still have three days to resolve this matter.”

Since its inception, President Bola Tinubu has introduced a slew of reforms including the removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the naira.

But Osifo has accused the Tinubu government of policy somersaults and not having “deep thinking”.

“So, for us, we would rate them 2.5 out of 10 which is 25%,” the TUC chief argued.

This is as the Organised Labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), rejected the offer of the Federal Government to pay ₦60,000 as the new minimum wage for workers.

The Organised Labour also shifted ground from its ₦497,000 stance last week to ₦494,000.

A prominent member of the Tripartite Committee for the negotiation of a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers told Channels Television labour correspondent, that the Federal Government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) side of the talks proposed a ₦60,000 monthly minimum wage on Tuesday, as against the ₦57,000 they proposed last week when the committee last met.

The government and the OPS had initially proposed ₦48,000 and ₦54,000 last week, which were also rejected by the organised labour.

Deadlocked

The organised labour had also presented ₦615,000 as the new minimum wage but saw reasons to drop their demand to ₦497,000 last week and then to ₦494,000 on Tuesday.

The meeting was, however, deadlocked as talks ended without an agreement on what to pay as a new minimum wage.

The Tripartite Committee for the negotiation of a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers is yet to agree on a new minimum wage just about three days before the May 31 deadline the labour unions gave to the government to conclude the negotiations.

The labour unions said the current minimum wage of ₦30,000 can no longer cater to the wellbeing of an average Nigerian worker, lamenting that not all governors are paying the current wage award which expired in April 2024, five years after the Minimum Wage Act of 2019 was signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari. The Act should be reviewed every five years to meet up with contemporary economic demands of workers.

NLC President Joe Ajaero had described as “unsubstantial”, the fresh proposals by the government. “It is still not substantial compared to what we need to make a family moving,” the labour leader had said of the current ₦30,000 wage paid to workers in the country.

“The economy of the workers is destroyed. The workers don’t have any economy. I think there are two economies in the country; the economy of the bourgeoisie and the economy of the workers. I think we have to harmonise this so that we can have a meeting point,” Ajaero had said.