‘We’re not opponents’ — FG asks labour to return to negotiations

‘We’re not opponents’ — FG asks labour to return to negotiations

The federal government has appealed to organised labour to
call off the ongoing nationwide indefinite strike and return to the negotiation
table.

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union
Congress (TUC) on Monday commenced an indefinite nationwide strike over the
government’s refusal to increase the minimum wage from N60,000.

 

The federal government had initially proposed a minimum wage
of N48,000, N54,000, and N60,000 — but labour has insisted on N615,500 and then
N494,000.

 

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Mohammed
Idris, minister of information and national orientation, said the government is
seeking a peaceful outcome in the negotiations.

Bayo Onanuga, presidential aide, and Nkeiruka Onyejeocha,
minister of state for labour, were at the press conference.

 

“This is a heartfelt and deeply considered appeal to the
labour unions to continue along the path of negotiations with the federal and
state governments, under the auspices of the tripartite committee that has been
established to fashion out a new, realistic minimum wage for the Nigerian
people,” Idris said.

 

“As a government, we are desirous of a peaceful outcome, and
we will do everything to make this happen. Yesterday, the leadership of the
national assembly met with the unions.

“Today, we have offered another invitation to the unions to
meet with us and continue our discussions.

 

“We will continue to engage, and continue to make ourselves
very available in the context of these negotiations on behalf of the Nigerian
people

 

“Let me make it clear that we are not opponents on this
negotiating table. We are united by the fact that we want the best for the
Federal Republic of Nigeria and all 200 million citizens of the country.

 

“We have a responsibility to strike a measured and realistic
balance in this effort to arrive at a new minimum wage for Nigerians.

“Let us remind ourselves of the fundamental facts: The
minimum wage is not only for public sector workers. It will be binding on the
private sector as well. This reality must be factored into the negotiations.”

 

The minister reiterated that labour’s demand for N494,000 to
be the minimum wage, which would translate into an annual wage bill of N9.5
trillion, is unrealistic.

 

“We want the labour unions to understand that the relief
that Nigerians are expecting and that they fully deserve will not come only in
the form of increased wages,” Idris said.

 

“It will also come as efforts to reduce the cost of living
and ensure that more money stays in the pockets of Nigerians.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) is firmly committed to
doing what is right, reasonable, and sustainable regarding these minimum wage
negotiations.”

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