Minimum Wage: Labour insists on May 31 deadline, threatens protest

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The Organised Labour, which includes the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has reaffirmed its May 31, 2024 ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet all of its demands, including the adoption of a new national minimum wage and the reversal of the electricity tariff hike.

This came after the NLC and TUC’s National Executive Councils (NEC) held an emergency meeting on Monday to address serious national issues facing Nigerian workers.

One of the issues raised by labour leaders was some state governments’ continued noncompliance with the 2019 National Minimum Wage Act.

In the resolution jointly signed by NLC President Joe Ajaero and TUC leader Festus Osifo, the labour unions also directed their members in Anambra State to mobilise for an industrial action in the event that the state government did not meet the demands of workers by May 23, 2024.

“The NEC acknowledges the ongoing negotiations between the NLC/TUC, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and the federal government regarding the new national minimum wage. While appreciating the efforts made thus far, the NEC emphasizes the urgency of reaching a fair and equitable agreement that reflects the true value of Nigerian workers’ contributions to the nation’s development and the current crisis of survival facing Nigerians as a result of government’s policies.

“The NEC affirms its commitment to ensuring that the interests and welfare of workers are adequately protected in the negotiation process. The NEC-in-session therefore reiterates the ultimatum issued by the NLC and TUC to the federal government, which expires on the last day of this month.

“It emphasizes the non-negotiable nature of the demands put forth by Nigerian workers and urges the government to prioritize the resolution of these issues in the best interest of industrial peace.

“NEC-in-session further directed all state Councils whose state Governments are yet to fully implement the N30,000 (Thirty-thousand Naira) National Minimum Wage and its consequential adjustments to issue immediately a joint two-week ultimatum to the culpable state Governments to avert industrial action.

“Consequently, the NEC-in-session accordingly reaffirms the NLC and TUC joint ultimatum earlier issued the Anambra state government by its Anambra state councils. It therefore directed all affiliates and workers in the state council to mobilize their members to ensure a successful action in the event the state government fails to meet the demands of workers by Thursday, the 23rd of May, 2024,” the unions so resolved.

Labour walks out of negotiation

Last week, labour unions walked out of minimum wage negotiations with the government following a N48,000 proposal by the Federal Government.

The labour unions described the offer as ridiculous.

According to the NLC President,  the government was not serious about negotiating with the labour on the new minimum wage.

On his part, the TUC president said the N48,000 proposal does not make sense. According to Osifo, the least federal workers are already earning up to N77,000 and proposing N48,000 at the moment is “abysmal”.

N615,000 Wage Proposal

On April 14, the Organised Labour demanded N615,000 as the new minimum wage for workers to cope with the many economic realities and high cost of living in Nigeria.

The labour unions said the current minimum wage of N30,000 can no longer cater for the wellbeing of an average Nigerian worker, lamenting that not all governors are paying the current wage award which expired in April 2024, five years after the Minimum Wage Act of 2019 was signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari. The Act should be reviewed every five years to meet up with contemporary economic demands of workers.

NLC and the TUC have at various times called on the administration of President Bola Tinubu to hasten the upward review of wage awards.

Earlier in January, the Federal Government inaugurated a 37-man Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage with a mandate to recommend a new National Minimum Wage for the country.