NLC, TUC pull out of Minimum Wage negotiation


…as FG proposes N48,000, Labour insists on N615,000

…Gives FG end of May to reconsider stance, initiate genuine move to resolve impasse

By Ukpono Ukpong

In a dramatic turn of events, negotiations over the National Minimum Wage on Wednesday hit the rocks as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) walked out of the discussion table.

The impasse came following the government’s proposal of a meagre N48,000 as the new minimum wage, which both unions deemed unacceptable.

Addressing the media, NLC President, Joe Ajaero and TUC Deputy President, Tommy Okon expressed profound disappointment over the breakdown in negotiations.

The unions lambasted the government’s proposal, labeling it as insulting and insufficient to meet the needs and aspirations of workers.

They criticized the lack of seriousness displayed by both the government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) in reaching a fair agreement.

Highlighting the glaring disparity between the proposed minimum wage and prevailing standards, the unions emphasised the detrimental impact it would have on workers’ economic well-being, even as they also rejected the Organised Private Sector’s (OPS) offer of N54,000.

Speaking further, they underscored the importance of a fair and equitable minimum wage that reflects workers’ contributions to the nation’s development.

While noting the detrimental impact of any proposed wage reduction, particularly on federal-level workers who are already struggling to make ends meet, they reiterated the unions’ commitment to advocating for the rights and interests of Nigerian workers, emphasising the need for a wage that reflects the true value of their contributions.

The unions called on the government to reconsider its position and engage in genuine dialogue aimed at finding a fair and sustainable resolution.

They reiterated their proposal for a N615,000 minimum wage, grounded in evidence and data, as a reflection of the objective socioeconomic realities facing Nigerian workers.

The decision to pull out of the negotiation process underscores the unions’ determination to resist any attempt to reduce workers’ income.

“The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) express profound disappointment as negotiations at the Tripartite National Minimum Wage resumed today but reached an unfortunate impasse as result of the apparent unseriousness of the Government to engage in reasonable negotiation with Nigerian workers.

“Despite earnest efforts to reach an equitable agreement, the less than reasonable action of the Government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) has led to a breakdown in negotiations.

“The Government’s proposal of a paltry N48,000 (forty-eight thousand Naira) as the Minimum Wage does not only insult the sensibilities of Nigerian workers but also falls significantly short of meeting our needs and aspirations.

“In contrast the Organised Private Sector (OPS) proposed an initial offer of N54,000 (fifty-four thousand Naira) though it is worth noting that even the least paid workers in the private sector receives N78,000 (seventy-eight thousand Naira per month) as clearly stated by the OPS, highlighting the stark disparity between the proposed minimum wage and prevailing standards further demonstrating the unwillingness of Employers and Government to faithfully negotiate a fair National Minimum Wage for Workers in Nigeria.

“Furthermore, the government’s failure to provide any substantiated data to support their offer exacerbates the situation. This lack of transparency and good faith undermines the credibility of the negotiation process and erodes trust between the parties involved.

“As representatives of Nigerian workers, we cannot in good conscience accept a wage proposal that would result in a reduction in income for federal-level workers who are already receiving N30,000 (thirty thousand Naira) as mandated by law, augmented by Buhari’s 40% Peculiar allowance (N12,000) and the N35,000 (thirty-five thousand Naira) wage award, totaling N77,000 (seventy- seven thousand Naira) only. Such a regressive step would undermine the economic well-being of workers and their families and is unacceptable in a National Minimum Wage Fixing process.

“In light of these developments, and in order to prevent the negotiation of a wage deduction, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have taken the decision to walk out of the negotiation process. We remain committed to advocating for the rights and interests of Nigerian workers and will continue to engage in reasonable dialogue with the Government if they show serious commitment to find a fair and sustainable resolution to this impasse.

“We call upon the Government to reconsider its position and come to the negotiation table with clear hands that reflects the true value of the contributions made by Nigerian workers to the nation’s development and the objective socioeconomic realities that confront not just Nigerian workers but Nigerians today as a result of the policies of the federal government.

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“Together, in a reasonable dialogue, we can work to give Nigerian workers a N615,000 (Six hundred and Fifteen thousand Naira) National Minimum wage as proposed by us on the basis of evidence and Data. This will be in keeping with the pledge of the President; his Excellency Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s pledge to ensure a living wage for Nigerian workers,” the Unions said.

Meanwhile, both Labour unions have given until month end for the government to reconsider their stance and initiate a genuine move to resolve the impasse as failure to do so, they will have no other choice than to meet with their organs to take a decisive action to resolve the issue.

As the deadlock persists, the fate of millions of Nigerian workers hangs in the balance, awaiting a resolution that truly acknowledges their worth and contributions to the nation’s development.

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