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NLC demands 497,000-494,000 from Federal Government as Minimum Wage

Abuja, Nigeria– In a significant development on Tuesday, May 28, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) firmly rejected the federal government’s offer of a new minimum wage of N60,000. This offer came after the government’s initial proposal of N57,000, which the unions had already turned down. Instead, the labour unions reduced their demand from N497,000 to N494,000.

The issue of minimum wage has been a contentious topic in Nigeria. The current minimum wage stands at N30,000, an amount that the labour unions argue is grossly insufficient to support the average Nigerian worker. This wage was established by the Minimum Wage Act of 2019, which expired in April 2024. Notably, some state governors have not yet implemented even this wage, exacerbating the financial struggles of workers.

President Bola Tinubu’s administration had previously communicated that it could not meet the unions’ demands, citing the country’s bloated workforce as a significant challenge. A member of the tripartite committee, which includes representatives from the government, labour unions, and the private sector, disclosed that the federal government and the private sector had proposed the N60,000 minimum wage during their last meeting.

NLC President Joe Ajaero criticized the government’s offer, describing it as “unsubstantial” and inadequate to meet the needs of Nigerian workers. “It is still not substantial compared to what we need to make a family moving,” Ajaero stated. He highlighted the dire economic conditions faced by workers, saying, “The economy of the workers is totally destroyed. In fact, the workers don’t have any economy. I think there are two economies in the country; the economy of the bourgeoisie and the economy of the workers. I think we have to harmonize this so that we can have a meeting point.”

Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to the President, Bayo Onanuga, responded to the unions’ demands by labeling them as unrealistic. Onanuga emphasized that both the federal and state governments are struggling with an excessively large workforce, making the unions’ demand for a N497,000 minimum wage untenable.

The negotiations reflect a significant divide between the government’s financial capacity and the unions’ push for a living wage that can sustain workers and their families. The NLC and TUC’s persistent demands underscore the severe economic pressures faced by Nigerian workers, who are grappling with rising costs of living.

A prominent member of the tripartite committee explained that the federal government and the organized private sector had proposed a monthly minimum wage of N60,000, which was an increase from their previous proposal of N57,000 made during their last meeting. However, this slight increase failed to satisfy the labour unions, who continue to insist that the proposed amount is insufficient to address the needs of workers.

 

The labour unions argue that the current economic situation in Nigeria demands a substantial increase in wages to ensure the well-being of workers. They stress that the current minimum wage of N30,000 is inadequate, and many workers are struggling to make ends meet.

 

The organized labour’s shift from their initial demand of N615,000 to N500,000, and then to N497,000, reflects their willingness to negotiate, but also their insistence on a wage that they believe is fair and just. The federal government’s counter-offers of N57,000 and N60,000, however, highlight the government’s financial constraints and its challenges in managing a large workforce.

 

The ongoing discussions between the government and the labour unions are critical for the future of Nigeria’s workforce. The unions have made it clear that they will not accept a minimum wage that they deem insufficient, and the government is equally adamant about its financial limitations.

The outcome of these negotiations will have significant implications for the economic stability of Nigeria and the livelihoods of its workers. As both sides continue to negotiate, the hope is that a mutually acceptable agreement can be reached, ensuring that Nigerian workers receive a wage that allows them to live with dignity and security.

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