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Minimum Wage: No Figure Is Sacrosanct, There’s Always Room For Adjustments – Labour

While the government and the organised private sector are proposing N62,000, the organised labour is demanding N250,000 as the new minimum wage.

L-R: NLC President Joe Ajaero, President Bola Tinubu, TUC President Festus Osifo, and NUPENG President NUPENG National President Williams Akporeha at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday, August 2, 2023.

Following the lingering discussions on a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers, organised labour has said that it is not fixated on any figure.

The tripartite committee on minimum wage ended its deliberations last week, submitting two figures to President Bola Tinubu for consideration as the new minimum wage.

While the government and the organised private sector are proposing ₦62,000, organised labour is demanding ₦250,000 as the new minimum wage.

However, the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, The Morning Brief on Friday, said no figure is sacrosanct as there is always room for adjustments.

“What we said is that for us when we give figures, there is always a room to meander, there is always a room for us to do some adjustment here and there,” Osifo said.

“So, there is no figure that is sacrosanct, there is no figure that is cast in stone that both parties will be fixated on it. One of the reasons that we went on industrial action the last time was because when it got to N60,000, they told us that a kobo cannot even join the N60,000, that they cannot even add one naira to it.

“So that was one of the reasons that led to that industrial action beyond the fact that there were also delays.”

President Tinubu is expected to send an executive bill to the National Assembly for legislative action.

The TUC President said that they are not going to pre-empt the President, but they are making all efforts to justify why Tinubu should tilt towards the figure presented by the labour instead of the one by the organised private sector and the government.

He said that if the President send a figure that is not favourable to the labour to the National Assembly, they will still approach the lawmakers and push them to do much more.

Osifo vowed that the work of the labour leaders will not end until the Minimum Wage Act 2024 becomes law. He said it is premature to predict what labour will do if what is passed is not acceptable to them at the end of the day.

I will approve what Nigeria can afford

Meanwhile, President Tinubu has said that he will only approve a new minimum wage that the government can afford.

He stated this on Wednesday at a dinner to mark Nigeria’s 25 years of unbroken democracy in Abuja.

“I have to celebrate with you my dear brother, Senate President, Deputy Senate President,” he said, adding that Senate President Godswill Akpabio and his deputy, Jibrin Barau would soon get an Executive Bill from him on the new minimum wage.

“The minimum wage is going to be what Nigerians can afford, what you can afford and what I can afford. Cut your coat according to your size, if you have size at all,” he said.

I pity Tinubu if he approves unsustainable wage

Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, says he pities President Tinubu if he approves an “unsustainable” minimum wage for workers in the country.

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) warned that not all state governments and the organised private sector can pay the ₦62,000 proposed by the Federal Government and the ₦250,000 demand of organised labour.

Soludo spoke on Wednesday at The Platform Nigeria, a programme by Lagos-based church, Covenant Nation, to mark 2024 Democracy Day.

 “But on the other hand, you have to come back to reality, talking about these MSMEs, the schools, churches, so on and so forth. You will have to pay your own driver. We are all in it. Whatever they agree, we will muddle through but may be after one year, we will need to meet to discuss the consequences.”

“I pity the President because it will all be on his head if the consequences come down, whatever it is, if whatever is negotiated is unsustainable or payable or whatever. Months to come, who will bear the responsibility? Not me.”

The discussions for a new minimum wage has lingered for months, with the tripartite committee ending with the two figures last week.

While labour dropped its earlier demand from ₦494,000 to ₦250,000, the government added ₦2,000 to its initial ₦60,000 and offered workers ₦62,000.

Both sides submitted their reports to the President, who is expected to make a decision and send an executive bill to the National Assembly to pass a new minimum wage bill to be signed into law by the President.

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