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Nigeria minimum wage talks reach impasse, new offer of N54,000 on the table

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Nigeria’s quest for a new national minimum wage remains unresolved after organized labour unions walked out of negotiations with the government.

The deadlock follows the Federal Government’s revised offer of N54,000, significantly lower than the N615,000 demanded by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

According to The Punch report on Tuesday, the government increased its initial offer. However, acceptance by labor unions remains uncertain.

The initial government proposal of N48,000 was met with outrage by the NLC, with President Joe Ajaero calling it “an insult” and a far cry from their proposed amount. He argued that the N615,000 figure was based on a comprehensive analysis of Nigeria’s economic situation and the needs of an average family.

Ajaero further blamed the government and the organized private sector (OPS) for the breakdown in talks, citing their “unreasonable actions.”

The OPS, represented by the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), expressed disappointment over the unions’ walkout, describing it as premature. NECA Director-General Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde urged unions to return to the table for the sake of their members and national development.

Justifying their walkout, Ajaero emphasized the inadequacy of the government’s offer. He highlighted the disparity between the proposed N54,000 and the minimum wage already offered in some private sectors (N78,000 according to the OPS).

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This divergence, he argued, demonstrates a lack of commitment to fair negotiations.

The NLC President also criticized the government’s lack of transparency, accusing them of failing to provide data to support their wage proposal.

This lack of data, he argued, undermines trust and the credibility of the negotiation process.

Despite the impasse, the NLC remains committed to advocating for Nigerian workers’ rights. Ajaero called on the government to approach the negotiations with “clear hands” and acknowledge the true value Nigerian workers bring to the nation’s development.

The Tripartite Committee, inaugurated in January 2024, has the responsibility of proposing a new minimum wage to replace the current N30,000 which expired in April. Vice President Kashim Shettima, representing President Muhammadu Buhari, had urged the committee to reach a swift resolution.

Public hearings were held in March across various Nigerian states, with labor unions proposing varied minimum wage figures based on the current economic realities.

The stark difference between these proposals and the government’s latest offer highlights the significant challenge of reaching an agreement that satisfies all parties involved.

(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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