Minimum Wage Talks in Nigeria Resume On Tuesday Amid Differing Positions Between Labour, Government

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The federal government, organised labour and other stakeholders would on Tuesday, resume negotiations on the national minimum wage.

The Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, Alhaji Bukar Goni, disclosed this in a letter of invitation to labour leaders dated May 16, 2024.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had walked out on the minimum wage negotiation committee following the N48,000 new minimum wage proposed by the government.

The National President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, had said labour was demanding N615,000 minimum wage, while the organised private sector had proposed N54,000.

Meanwhile, after two consecutive meetings of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), the State governors have remained silent on the issue of minimum wage.

This was just as former Kaduna federal lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani, has said the issue of minimum wage should be addressed to avoid strike from the organised labour.

The State governors under the aegis of NGF, had said earlier in May, that their decision on the minimum wage would be based on the outcome of the tripartite committee set up by the federal government to review the minimum wages for workers.

In the communique of their meeting on May 2, this year, the governors  after a virtual meeting, had said they would review the report of the tripartite committee when the report is submitted and each state reach a decision on what they would be able to pay.

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However, a communique on Thursday, signed by the Chairman, NGF and  Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, at the end of two meetings held this week, was silent on the issue of minimum wage.

It stated: ‘While we acknowledge various initiatives adopted of recent by way of wage awards and partial wage adjustments, it is imperative to state that the 37-member tripartite committee inaugurated on the National Minimum Wage, is still in consultation and yet to conclude its work.

“As members of the committee, we are reviewing our individual fiscal space as state governments and the consequential impact of various recommendations, to arrive at an improved minimum wage we can pay sustainably.

“We remain committed to the process and promise that better wages will be the invariable outcome of ongoing negotiations,” while congratulating workers across the country for their dedication to service and patience.

 The communique further stated, “We work with the federal government, labour, organised private sector and relevant stakeholders in arriving at an implementable national minimum wage.”

It added, “We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, deliberated on various issues of national importance.

 “Members received a briefing from the Honourable Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Oladele Alake, on recent policies, institutional and operational reforms undertaken by the ministry in harnessing the mining potentials of the country.

“He sought the cooperation of state governments in his drive to create an enabling business environment for investors, support artisanal and small-scale mining cooperatives, address illegal mining, and de-risk the sector.”

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In a related development, Sani said the issue of minimum wage should be addressed to avoid strikes from organised labour.

 He stated this in an interview with Arise Television programme monitored in Abuja.

According to him, the issue of minimum wage increment was within the means of the federal government.

“I don’t know how a Nigerian can survive with less than N100,000 if you break down what the government is offering N45,000-48,000, you will see how unrealistic it is by the time you factor in many things. The position taken by labour should be considered by the government.

 “It is one thing agreeing to increase the minimum wage and then the capacity to pay. Let us not forget that in the last few years the government has been finding it difficult to even pay the ones that I already have on paper, so how this could be reflected should be considered.

 “But from what we have learnt since the withdrawal of subsidy, the government has more money and there’s no better way to effectively and productively spend it than to increase the minimum wage of Nigerian workers to a reasonable point where he can adequately take care of his family,” Sani said.

Chuks Okocha

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