‘Government Is Not Serious Yet’ – Labour Speaks On Tinubu Approving Minimum Wage

The nation’s anticipation heightens as workers across Nigeria keenly await President Bola Tinubu’s decision on the new national minimum wage, following the final submission of the Tripartite Committee’s report.

The committee, which encompasses representatives from the federal and state governments as well as the private sector, has recommended a minimum wage of ₦62,000. However, labour leaders who insist on a ₦250,000 wage have staunchly opposed this proposal.

The current atmosphere suggests potential industrial unrest, reminiscent of past strikes, if President Tinubu endorses the committee’s recommendation, which is far below the expectations of the labour unions.

The committee concluded its discussions last Friday, but labour leaders remain firm on their higher demand, underscoring a significant divide between government propositions and worker expectations.

In a conversation with Daily Sun, the spokesperson for the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Benson Upah, expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s stance, labelling it as a demonstration of non-seriousness in addressing workers’ grievances.

Upah highlighted that the proposed ₦62,000 is insufficient to maintain a decent standard of living amidst the escalating cost of living in the country.

When asked if the NLC’s was ready to accept ₦62,000 as the new minimum wage, he adamantly replied: “No, not all. Far too low below the threshold. No deal. Govt is not serious yet.”

Similarly, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), expressed firm support for the proposed N250,000 minimum wage, citing its necessity to meet the challenges of the present socio-economic climate.

The TUC’s first deputy president, Mr Tommy Okon, reiterated the labour centre’s unwavering stance on the N250,000 minimum wage, highlighting its alignment with President Tinubu’s commitment to providing a living wage for the workers following the removal of fuel subsidy.

Okon emphasised that the proposed amount was justifiable considering various socio-economic factors, such as housing, transportation, healthcare, education, and tariffs, as outlined in the cost of living index.

He expressed confidence in President Tinubu’s sensitivity to the plight of the workers, and urged him to consider their proposal in line with the current realities.

The labour leader said: “You are aware that our position is very clear on the minimum of N250,000. If we had done otherwise, you would have seen. So, we have taken our position to Mr. President, through the committee.

“So, let Mr. President decide. That is our position. We stand by ₦250,000 national minimum wage.

“Like I said, it is now at Mr. President’s prerogative, because what we have done is to help the government and also to help the President work this stuff. Remember, when Mr. President said fuel subsidy was gone, he said he was going to pay workers a living wage. So, we have been able to put out a variable facts that can technically prove that ₦250,000 could be manageable as a living wage. This is because when you look at the value of ₦62,000, and the present socioeconomic challenges, it cannot amount to what Mr. President referred to in his inaugural speech as a living wage.

“So, we are helping the government to work, because what the government has offered so far cannot be justifiable going by the present cost of living. The reason is that there is no variable fact to speak on it. Is it for housing? Is it for transportation? Is it for medical? Is it for education? Is it for tariff? These are indices that we have come to look at through the cost of living index that ₦250,000 is justifiable.

“So, that is what we are doing. And we believe that Mr. President is very sensitive, and that he would look at it as a democrat and see that, yes, what the workers have put forward is also considerable in line with the present reality. So, that is our position and we believe that Mr. President, who came on to announce the removal of fuel subsidy without consulting us, will also find a way to see that he appeases us, because when that was done, we never went on strike. So, in this case, Mr. President will also consider that they need to give us a wage of ₦250,000.”

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