Again, Minimum Wage Talks Stalled as Labour Rejects FG’s N60,000 Offer

•Minister appeals for patriotism

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The organised labour has again turned down another proposal of N60,000 as new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers offered by the federal government.

The new figure which was an increase of N6,000 to its earlier offer of N54,000 was proposed during yesterday’s resumed negotiation between the federal government, the organised labour represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the private sector.

However, the meeting which was held at the NICON Luxury Hotel in Abuja, saw leaders of NLC and TUC stage a walk out immediately the government side presented the N60,000 proposal.

The labour movement said the only thing that would make them succumb would be when a living wage proposal was brought to the table.

In a reaction to the government’s latest offer, labour said the amount was still a pittance and cannot offer any hope of survival to workers under the present circumstances.

A reliable source within the organised labour who spoke on condition of anonymity described government’s proposal as scratching the surface rather that coming up with a reasonable amount for negotiation to be concluded.

“How can we agree on N60,000- an amount that cannot buy a bag of rice to serve as national minimum wage. Let’s assume that you are buying a loaf of bread for your family at N2,000 every day and that is what you and your family want to be eating for one meal.

“Then three meals will be N6,000 per day and this will amount to N180,000 per a month. This means you are not going to use tea or butter and you are not going to drink water. Who can survive on this?

“We have to be realistic in this country. When government increased the price of petrol, they asked labour to wait and demand for a living minimum wage and the government is going to provide a living a living wage for workers. But now, we are asking for a living wage and government is playing around it.

But once our ultimatum expires in two to three days from now, we will serve the federal government with a strike notice, he said.

THISDAY gathered from another source at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment that the Minister, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha has been been making top consultations in order to resolve the disagreement.

Meanwhile, Onyejeocha, has appealed to organised labour to be considerate and patriotic in their demand in the ongoing negotiation for a new national minimum wage.

In a statement signed by the Ministry’s Director, Press and Public Relations, Olajide Oshundun, the minister said that government had been consistent in taking steps to secure a fair and realistic wage for Nigeria workers, and urged organised Labour to recognise that the nation’s economy was still on the path of recovery from the effect of the pandemic and other economic distress.

She said: “We appeal to organised labour and indeed, other relevant stakeholders to be considerate and patriotic in their demands, recognising that our economy is still recovering from the devastating effects of the pandemic and other global economic shocks. We are committed to putting the people first and ensuring that our economic policies benefit all Nigerians, not just a select few.

“The government remains dedicated to prioritising the wellbeing of our citizens and urge all relevant parties to demonstrate patriotism and understanding, particularly during this critical period when the President, Bola Tinubu, is working diligently to revitalise the economy.”

The minister said in light of the current economic conditions, government has made a concessionary move from N57,000 to N60,000.

“This increase is a demonstration of our willingness to listen to the concerns of labour and work towards a mutually beneficial agreement. We understand that the current economic landscape is challenging, and we are doing everything in our power to mitigate its effects on our citizens.

“This is the path that this government has chosen to pursue, and we will not deviate or stray from the course,” she stated.

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