Minimum Wage Stalemate: FG-Labour Talks Deadlocked as NLC Upholds N615,000 Demand

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Efforts to establish a new minimum wage have hit a standstill as the Federal Government and organized labour remain at loggerheads over the matter.

President Bola Tinubu hinted at the impasse during this year’s International Workers’ Day celebration in Abuja, emphasizing the inability to reach a consensus.

Meanwhile, Mr Bayo Onanuga, the President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, raised concerns over workers’ insistence on the N615,000 minimum wage, highlighting the absence of agreement between the government and labour unions on the proposed amount.

However, Nigeria Labour Congress President Joe Ajaero defended the demand, asserting the union’s refusal to accept any wage that would impoverish its members.

The deadlock follows the establishment of a tripartite committee by the President in January to review the existing N30,000 minimum wage. Despite submissions from both the NLC and Trade Unions Congress proposing the N615,000 minimum wage, the government did not announce a new wage at the May Day celebration.

According to officials from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, while organised labour insists on N615,000, the government and private sector propose between N60,000 and N70,000, leading to a negotiation stalemate.

Ajaero justified the N615,000 figure, citing an analysis of current economic conditions and the needs of an average Nigerian family of six. He criticized the recent announcement of pay rises for civil servants, considering the ongoing deadlock.

Meanwhile, President Tinubu, represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, expressed optimism in resolving the impasse, assuring workers of an eventual announcement of a “fair living wage” soon.

The Presidency faulted the NLC’s demand, stating that the government cannot afford the proposed amount. Onanuga emphasized the necessity of reaching an agreement feasible for both government and private sectors.

Amidst the negotiation deadlock, Vice President of the TUC Tommy Etim argued that consensus had not been reached and urged consideration for other stakeholders’ submissions.

The unions, at the May Day celebration, called for an end to excessive borrowing and criticised the handling of the energy crisis, demanding transparency and accountability in the sector.

Labour further challenged recent electricity tariff hikes and urged a reversal within one week. They stressed the need for a collaborative effort to ensure energy benefits all Nigerians and not just a privileged few.

The ongoing deadlock underscores the urgency of finding a mutually acceptable solution to address workers’ welfare and enhance economic stability.

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