Labour rejects FG’s N48,000 minimum wage offer

Labour rejects FG’s N48,000 minimum wage offer
  • Gives Tinubu 2-week ultimatum

  • Government mum

 

The organised labour yesterday rejected the federal government’s proposal of a new minimum wage of N48,000.

Labour leaders, who walked out of the resumed negotiation by the Tripartite Committee on New National Minimum Wage, described the offer as “paltry”.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), who were members of the minimum wage tripartite committee, expressed disappointed at the offer.

The organised labour had demanded N615, 000 as new minimum wage and given the government up till May 31, to conclude negotiations on a new living wage.

The federal government had, on April 30, approved a pay rise of between 25 and 35 per cent for civil servants across various consolidated salary structures.

 

Shouting match at tripartite c’ttee meeting

Credible sources, who were part of the meeting, informed Daily Trust that there were heated arguments yesterday between the labour leaders and the representatives of the government before the former staged a walk-out in protest.

One of the sources said the labour leaders got angry immediately government representatives offered something that was below what the Organised Private Sector (OPS) offered.

“It was the labour leaders that first spoke during the meeting, and they backed up all their demands with clear analysis on how they arrived at N615, 000 as national minimum wage for workers.

“Representatives of the OPS also spoke and proposed an initial offer of N54, 000, even though one of them said the least paid workers in the private sector receive N78, 000.

“But government representatives got labour leaders angry for offering something that was below what the OPS offered. From there, heated arguments ensued, and after that, labour leaders worked out,” the source said.

Confirming the development at an emergency press briefing that was summoned afterwards, NLC President, Joe Ajaero, alleged “lack of transparency and good faith that undermines the credibility of the negotiation process.”

Ajaero said: “The government’s failure to provide any substantiated data to support their offer exacerbates the situation. This lack of transparency and good faith undermines the credibility of the negotiation process and erodes trust between the parties involved.

“Such a regressive step would undermine the economic well-being of workers and their families and is unacceptable in a national minimum wage fixing process.

“In light of these developments, and in order to prevent the negotiation of a wage deduction, the NLC and TUC have taken the decision to walk out of the negotiation process.”

Speaking further, Ajaero, who was accompanied by the deputy president of TUC, Tommy Etim Okon, said there was no going back on the May 31 deadline given to the government to conclude the process of a new national minimum wage.

He called on President Bola Tinubu to fulfil his promise to provide a living wage for workers.

Ajaero insisted to the labour’s demand for N615, 000.

He stated: “The NLC and TUC express profound disappointment as negotiations at the Tripartite National Minimum Wage resumed today but reached an unfortunate impasse as result of the apparent unseriousness of the government to engage in reasonable negotiation with Nigerian workers.

“Despite earnest efforts to reach an equitable agreement, the less than reasonable action of the Government and the OPS has led to a breakdown in negotiations.

“The government’s proposal of a paltry N48, 000 as the minimum wage does not only insult the sensibilities of Nigerian workers, but also falls significantly short of meeting our needs and aspirations.

“In contrast, the OPS proposed an initial offer of N54, 000 though it is worth noting that even the least paid workers in the private sector receives N78, 000 per month as clearly stated by the OPS, highlighting the stark disparity between the proposed minimum wage and prevailing standards further demonstrating the unwillingness of employers and government to faithfully negotiate a fair national minimum wage for workers in Nigeria.

“As representatives of Nigerian workers, we cannot, in good conscience, accept a wage proposal that would result in a reduction in income for federal-level workers who are already receiving N30,000 as mandated by law, augmented by Buhari’s 40% peculiar allowance (N12,000) and the N35,000 wage award, totalling N77,000 only.

“We remain committed to advocating for the rights and interests of Nigerian workers and will continue to engage in reasonable dialogue with the government if they show serious commitment to find a fair and sustainable resolution to this impasse.

“We call upon the government to reconsider its position and come to the negotiation table with clear hands that reflects the true value of the contributions made by Nigerian workers to the nation’s development and the objective socioeconomic realities that confronts not just Nigerian workers but Nigerians today as a result of the policies of the federal government.

“Together, in a reasonable dialogue, we can work to give Nigerian workers a N615, 000 national minimum wage as proposed by us on the basis of evidence and data.

“This will be in keeping with the pledge of the president; his Excellency Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s pledge to ensure a living wage for Nigerian workers.”

 

Govt mum

Officials of the federal government did not give official comment on the rejection of the N48, 000 proposal by the organised labour yesterday.

Efforts to get reaction from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) and Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHoCSF) were not successful as designated officials were not available for comment.

However, some top official in both offices told Daily Trust in confidence that the reaction of the labour unions were not unexpected.

It was learnt that the Wednesday’s meeting was not attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, who was represented by a permanent secretary in his office.

The union leaders rebuffed the top government official, after his appeal for understanding by the unions’ representatives, who rhetorically asked him if he could accept N48, 000 as his monthly salary.

Recall that President Tinubu on January 30 inaugurated a 37-man Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage with a mandate to recommend and look into the implementation of a new national minimum wage for the country.

Tinubu, represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, inaugurated the committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The committee, under the chairmanship of Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji, a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, cut across federal and state governments, private sector and the organised labour.

From the federal government, members include Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Minister of State, Labour and Employment (Representing Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment); Mr. Wale Edun, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy; Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, Minister of Budget Economic Planning; Dr. Yemi Esan, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation; Dr. Nnamdi Maurice Mbaeri, Permanent Secretary, GSO. OSGF and Ekpo Nta, Esq, Chairman/CEO, NSIWC, Member/Secretary.

From the states, Governor Mohammed Umar Bago of Niger is representing the North Central; Senator Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State (North East); Alhaji Umar Dikko Radda of Katsina State (North West); Prof. Charles Soludo of Anambra State (South East); Senator Ademola Adelekeof Osun State (South West) and Mr. Otu Bassey Edet of Cross River State (South South).

From the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA)- Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, Director-General, NECA; Mr. Chuma Nwankwo; Mr. Thompson Akpabio with also members from the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) include Asiwaju Michael Olawale-Cole, National President;  Hon. Ahmed Rabiu, National Vice President and Chief Humphrey Ngonadi (NPOM), National Life President.

The membership from the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprise (NASME) are Dr. Abdulrashid Yerima, President and Chairman of Council; Hon. Theophilus Nnorom Okwuchukwu, Private Sector representative; Dr. Muhammed Nura Bello, Zonal Vice President, North West and also from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) are Mrs. Grace Omo-Lamai, Human Resource Director, Nigerian Breweries; Segun Ajayi-Kadir, mni, Director-General, MAN; Lady Ada Chukwudozie, Managing Director, Dozzy Oil and Gas Limited.

Few weeks after the inauguration of the committee, there was controversy that trailed the request for N1 billion from SGF Akume, to President Tinubu, for the workings of the 37-man national minimum wage committee.

It was said that Tinubu approved half of the budget (N500, 000) for the committee to carry out the assignment in the first instance, as contained in a viral leaked memo.

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