Consult us before submitting new minimum wage figure to NASS, Labour tells Tinubu

To maintain industrial peace in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), have called on the President, Bola Tinubu, not to present any figure regarding the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly without consulting the organised labour and members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS).

They also reminded the Tinubu-led federal government that workers across all cadres in the country would demand payment of minimum wage arrears no matter how long it takes to sign the new minimum wage into law.

Joe Ajaero, President of the NLC and his counterpart from TUC, Festus Osifo, disclosed this to journalists on Thursday on the sideline of the ongoing International Labour Conference at the Palais du Nation in Geneva, Switzerland.

The last national minimum wage expired on April 18, 2024, after completing its five-year lifespan. For records, the last minimum wage came into existence on April 17, 2019, when the immediate past President, Muhammadu Buhari signed it into law.

Speaking at the joint briefing, Ajaero explained that it was imperative for workers to demand payment of minimum wage arrears irrespective of when a new national minimum wage law is passed by the National Assembly.

The labour leader stated that labour expects the President to invite tripartite bodies to a meeting where the ability to pay will be discussed before arriving at a final figure.

He said, “We do not expect the President to present a final figure to the National Assembly without consulting with organised labour, employers, and state governors. Everyone will still come together to discuss before transmission to the National Assembly.”

Corroborating what Ajaero said, the TUC President added that even after transmission to the National Assembly, labour will continue to lobby and push for more in its bid to secure the best possible figure for Nigerian workers.

When asked about the exact figure inserted in the report submitted to the President, the leaders of the two labour centres denied knowledge of its full content, insisting that they didn’t append their signature to any report.

“Moreover, we have not seen the content of what has been submitted to the President. We will insist on seeing the content and appending our signatures to every page. We will not append our signatures to any page we are not comfortable with.

“As representatives here, we cannot specify the exact amount until we consult, review the offers, and determine what is fair for Nigerian workers,” Ajaero told journalists.

On his part, Osifo said the reason minimum wage arrears would be demanded was because of growing inflation on a daily basis which he said has impacted negatively on the Nigerian workers.

The TUC President said, “It took about two years to conclude the last minimum wage negotiation. That duration was due to fewer challenges compared to what we face now. Food prices are high, the Naira is devalued, and energy costs have escalated.

“Currently, urgency is paramount. We don’t have the luxury of time. Negotiations began in January this year, and we are already discussing sending a bill to the National Assembly for a new minimum wage law.

“Since April 18, 2024, Nigeria has lacked a minimum wage law. However, I assure Nigerians that labour will demand arrears payment, regardless of when the new law takes effect.”

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