Labour Insists on May 31 Deadline for Minimum Wage Agreement as Talks Resume

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Ahead of the meeting, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) held a preparatory session on Monday, where they reaffirmed their stance that the minimum wage negotiation must conclude by May 31. The unions issued a joint communiqué after their National Executive Council meeting, signed by NLC President Joe Ajaero and TUC President Festus Osifo, insisting on the deadline.

Previously, labour leaders had walked out of a tripartite committee meeting when the Federal Government proposed a N48,000 minimum wage against labour’s demand for N615,000.

Private Sector’s Offer

The Organized Private Sector initially offered N54,000. Labour leaders expressed their dissatisfaction with the government’s offer at a press conference, highlighting the inadequacy of the proposed amount.

NLC President Ajaero justified the N615,000 demand based on an analysis of the current economic situation and the needs of an average Nigerian family of six. He criticized the government for failing to provide substantiated data to support its proposal, thus undermining the negotiation’s credibility.

“The government’s proposal of a paltry N48,000 as the minimum wage not only insults the sensibilities of Nigerian workers but also significantly falls short of meeting our needs and aspirations. The private sector’s minimum wage is N78,000, highlighting the stark disparity and unwillingness to negotiate a fair wage,” Ajaero stated.

Revival of Talks

In a bid to revive the talks, the Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, Alhaji Bukar Goni, invited labour leaders to another round of negotiations, hinting that the government might increase its offer from the initial N48,000.

Goni, the former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, indicated that government representatives were open to further concessions.

Union’s Stance

The unions emphasized the urgency of reaching a fair agreement reflecting the true value of Nigerian workers’ contributions and addressing the current economic crisis. The NEC reaffirmed its commitment to protecting workers’ 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 workers’ demands and urges the government to prioritize resolving these issues to maintain industrial peace,” the statement read.

The NEC also directed all state councils whose governments have yet to fully implement the N30,000 National Minimum Wage to issue a joint two-week ultimatum, threatening industrial action if their demands are not met.

Potential Actions

Should the government fail to meet the outlined demands, the NEC authorized the NLC and TUC leadership to take appropriate actions, including mobilizing workers for peaceful protests and industrial actions to press for social justice and workers’ rights.

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

Labour’s Position

TUC National Deputy President Tommy Etim confirmed the labour unions’ insistence on the May 31 deadline. He attributed the breakdown in negotiations to the government and the Organized Private Sector’s unreasonable actions.

“The Federal Government has apologized, and the next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday. We will attend and present our demand,” Etim said.

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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