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Minimum Wage: Give costs to govt today, Tinubu orders Finance Minister

ABUJA — PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu yesterday gave marching orders to the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, to prepare the cost implications of a new minimum wage and present an affordable, sustainable and realistic figure today.

According to him, the government’s new offer must be ready today as the basis of negotiation with organised labour.

He also directed those involved in the negotiation to expedite action, so that everything on the new minimum wage could be concluded as soon as possible.

Recall that the Federal Government had given offers of N48,000, N57,000 and N60,000, which Labour rejected and embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike on Monday but suspended yesterday.

Tinubu gave the order when he summoned the Federal Government’s representatives in the tripartite committee on new minimum wage to a meeting in his office yesterday.

Those at the meeting with the President were the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun; the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu; the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris; and GMD/CEO, of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company limited, CEO, NNPCL, Mele Kyari.

Speaking after the meeting, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said the meeting was summoned by President Tinubu to look at the contentious issues and find amicable solutions to them.

On how the Federal Government’s team had been negotiating with the organized labour and if the issue could be resolved within the next seven days, the minister said: “It has been quite challenging but we thank God that we are at this point. We thank labour that its leaders have suspended the strike early this morning (yesterday).

“On government’s side, the President has just summoned a meeting of all those negotiating on behalf of the Federal Government, led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and the Minister of Finance was there, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning. Myself, the Minister of State for Labour, the GMD of the NNPC were all there to look at those issues.

“The President has directed the Minister of Finance to do the numbers and get back to him between today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today), so we can have some figures ready for negotiation with labour.

President is determined’

“Let me say that Mr. President is determined to go with what the committee has said. He is also looking at the welfare of Nigerians. Like I have said earlier, government is not an opponent of labour discussions. It is not an opponent of wage increase.

“But what is there is that government is always desirous of ensuring that there is a balance between what government pronouncement is and what realities are on ground and, therefore, will work assiduously to ensure that whatever we do, whatever promises government makes will be kept. That is the idea of this meeting.

“The President has given a marching order to all those who negotiate on behalf of the government and all those also who are representatives of other sectors, the Organized Private Sector, OPS, the sub-nationals come together, so we can have a new wage award that is acceptable, sustainable and also realistic for Nigeria.

“A wage award is not just that of the federal government, like I mentioned earlier. The subnationals are involved, the OPS is involved, and organised labour is involved. It was a labour that stepped out during those proceedings.

‘’Now that we have come back to the negotiating table, all of us will work together again, seriously within the next one week, to ensure that we have a new wage for Nigeria that is acceptable, sustainable and realistic for all Nigerians”

Why we suspended strike — NLC, TUC

Announcing yesterday the suspension of the nationwide strike that commenced Monday, in a communiqué at the end of their joint National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Abuja, President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, and its TUC counterpart, Festus Osifo, gave insight into why labour suspended the indefinite nationwide strike yesterday

The communiqué explained that NEC also reviewed the government’s position on other critical demands, particularly the reversal of electricity tariff hike and the cessation of the discriminatory classification of electricity consumers into bands.

Members of NEC also x-rayed reasons for withdrawing from the Tripartite Committee for the Negotiation of the National Minimum Wage, the content of the memorandum of understanding reached with the Federal Government at the meeting of Monday, June 3, 2024.

The communiqué read: “On the National Minimum Wage, the NEC-in-Session acknowledges the personal offer by the President Tinubu to commit to a higher National Minimum Wage above the N60,000 on offer.

“On electricity tariff hike and classification: The NEC-in-Session is deeply disappointed by the government’s silence and lack of concrete action regarding reversal of electricity tariff hike and the abolition of the apartheid classification of electricity consumers into bands.

‘’The NEC reaffirms that these issues are critical to alleviating the financial burden on Nigerian workers and the general populace. The electricity tariff hike and discriminatory band classification remain unacceptable and must be addressed alongside the wage increase.

“On the reason for withdrawing from the wage setting process, the NEC-in-session frowned on the refusal of the Federal Government to go beyond N60,000 at the ongoing national minimum wage negotiation which compelled our withdrawal.

“On the agreement with the Federal Government, the NEC-in-session affirms that the Federal Government has agreed that the offer of N60,000 was not sufficient and has, therefore, shown commitment to making better wage offer to Nigerian workers and reaching agreement on same within one week.

“In view of the deliberations, the NEC-in-session resolved as follows that there is a greater need to create the right ambience for negotiation to continue unhindered.

‘’The indefinite nationwide strike is, therefore, relaxed for one week from today (yesterday) to allow the Federal Government commit to a concrete and acceptable national minimum wage; take definitive steps to reverse the electricity tariff hike back to N66/kwh and abolish the discriminatory classification of electricity consumers into Bands.

“The NLC and TUC national leadership are mandated to continue to maintain open channels of communication with the Federal Government to negotiate and secure favourable outcomes for Nigerian workers and people.

“All affiliate unions and state councils are, therefore, directed to relax the indefinite nationwide strike and return to their respective workplaces immediately.

“The NEC-in-Session expresses profound gratitude to Nigerian workers and the general public for their unwavering support and solidarity in this critical struggle for improved living and working conditions.

“The NLC and TUC remain committed to pursuing all necessary actions to protect the rights and welfare of all Nigerian people and workers as we urge all to await further directives while the negotiation continues.”

Agenda for today’s meeting

Similarly, the tripartite committee of a new minimum wage, yesterday at its resumed negotiation, adopted the agenda for the one week continuous negotiation.

At the resumed meeting, a source privy to deliberations, said: “The meeting today (yesterday) was for the adoption of agenda for the one week negotiation.

“Tomorrow (today) is the D-day for them to present what they have. Remember we did not call off the strike but we relaxed it and we will resume (strike) if there is no agreement. So the fireworks will start tomorrow (today).”

Recall that last Friday, before organised labour’s negotiating team, declared indefinite strike on Monday, June 3, it had walked out of the meeting, accusing the Federal Government team of claiming it was unable to reach the President, hence it could not make a fresh offer beyond the initial N60,000.
Labour leaders had walked out of the meetings thrice after rejecting government and the Organised Private Sector’s, OPS, offers.

Friday’s walk-out, which was the third in the course of the negotiations, incidentally was the deadline labour gave government to conclude a new minimum wage as the old minimum wage of N30,000 signed into law by former President Muhammad Buhari on April 18, 2019, expired on April 18, 2024.

Labour’s negotiating team had Tuesday, May 28, for the second time in two weeks, walked out of the committee meeting after the Federal Government increased its offer to N60,000 from the N57, 000 it offered on Wednesday, May 22.

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