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Minimum Wage: We Won’t Accept N100,000 – Labour

The organised labour yesterday said there was no way it could accept N100, 000 as minimum wage after rejecting the proposed N62, 000 for workers.

This is just as the 37-member Tripartite Caommittee on National Minimum Wage on Monday submitted its report to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu after about five months of sittings.

Labour had suspended a nationwide indefinite strike for a week after the federal government pleaded for negotiation following penultimate Monday’s industrial action, which shook the country.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, had summoned labour leaders to an emergency meeting after the strike, which crippled economic activities.

At the end of the meeting, it was announced that the federal government had offered to pay higher than N60, 000 minimum wage.

After the resumption of sittings, disagreements still ensued on Friday as the government added N2, 000 to the initial N60, 000 offered.

Representatives of the federal government and the private sector in the tripartite committee for the negotiation of new minimum wage proposed N62, 000, while the organised labour scaled down from N494, 000 to N250, 000.

* No strike for now, Ajaero

Speaking yesterday, President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, said there will be no protest or industrial action for now over the new minimum wage.

The NLC chairman who revealed this in an interview with selected journalists in Geneva, Switzerland, during the ongoing International Labour Conference, said reports of the tripartite committee had been submitted to President Tinubu.

Ajaero said the organised labour could not embark on strike on Tuesday (today) because they would have to wait for the president to consider the figures submitted by the tripartite committee on minimum wage before further action could be taken.

“The tripartite committee submitted two figures to the president. Government and employers proposed N62, 000 while labour proposed N250, 000. We are waiting for the decision of the president.

“Our National Executive Council (NEC) will deliberate on the new figure when it is out. We cannot declare strike now because the figures are with the president. We will wait for the president’s decision.

“During the tenure of the immediate-past president (Buhari), the figure that was proposed to him was N27, 000 by the tripartite committee, but he increased it to N30, 000.

“We are hopeful that this president will do the right thing. The president had noted that the difference between N62, 000 and N250, 000 is a wide gulf,” Ajaero told journalists during the interview.

Ajaero also lampooned the state governors under the umbrella body of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for rejecting the N62, 000 minimum wage proposal.

He said, “How can any governor say he cannot pay? They cannot also be calling for the decentralization of the minimum wage. Are their wages decentralized?

“Governors whose states are not contributing a dime to the national purse and who generate pitiable Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) are collecting the same amount as governors whose states are generating billions of dollars into the FAAC.

“They should decentralize their salaries and emoluments first. So, where is the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki getting his money from? He is paying N70, 000 minimum wage. This is the type of governor that should be emulated and not the lazy ones,” he said.

Also speaking yesterday on the current development, the assistant general secretary of the NLC, Chris Onyeka, who featured on Channels TV’s Morning Brief on Monday, said if the federal government and the National Assembly failed to act on workers’ demands by today (Tuesday), the NLC and TUC would meet to decide whether to resume the nationwide industrial action that was lifted last week.

He said: “Our position is very clear; we have never considered accepting N62, 000 or any other wage we know is below what Nigerian workers can take home. We will not negotiate a starvation wage.

“We have never contemplated N100, 000, let alone N62, 000. We are still at N250, 000; and that is what we considered enough concession to the government and the other social partners in this particular situation. We are not just driven by frivolities but also by the realities of the market place – the realities of things we buy every day: bags of rice, yam, garri and all of that.

“The federal government and the National Assembly have the call now. It is not our call. Our demand is for the government to look at and send an executive bill to the National Assembly and for the National Assembly to look at what we have demanded, the various facts of the law, and then come up with a national minimum act that meets our demands.

“If that does not meet our demand, we have given the federal government a one-week notice to look at the issues, and that one week expires tomorrow (today). If after tomorrow (today), we have not seen any tangible response from the government, the organs of the organised labour will meet to decide what to do next.

“It was clear that we said we were relaxing a nationwide indefinite strike. It is like putting a pause on it. So, if you put a pause on something and the organs that govern us as trade unions decide that we should remove that pause, it means that we go back to what was in existence before.”

* Tripartite c’ttee submits report

Meanwhile, the 37-member tripartite committee yesterday submitted its report to the president.

Mr Segun Imohiosen, the Director, Information and Public Relations Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), noted this in a statement.

President Tinubu inaugurated the committee on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 in accordance with the provisions of the Minimum Wage Act, 2019.

The committee was tasked with the responsibility of recommending a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers in public and private sectors.

“The Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage has concluded its assignment and submitted report to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation on Monday, June 10, 2024,” Imohiosen said.

He said a formal presentation of the report would be made to Mr President for appropriate action when the leadership of the organised labour, as well as representatives of the government and the organised private sector, who are presently in Geneva, Switzerland for the ongoing International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference, returned to the country.

The SGF, Senator Akume, thanked the chairman of the committee, Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji and members for their commitment and sacrifices.

Efforts by Daily Trust to get insights or contents of the report, especially on the recommendations and figures proposed by the committee did not yield results as the officials contacted declined comments on the content of the report.

With the submission of the report, the president is expected to make a decision and send an executive bill to the National Assembly to pass a new minimum wage bill, which the president will then sign into law.

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