Top Stories

June 13, 2024

Labour rejects Tinubu’s claims of agreement on minimum wage


•Relief will not come only from increase in wages, FG tells Labour

By Victor AhiumaYoung and Emmanuel Elebeke

THE Organised Labour has rejected President Bola Tinubu’s claims that an agreement had been reached on new national minimum wages in his nationwide broadcast to mark Democracy Day.

According to labour, as at the time negotiations ended on June 7, there was no agreement reached by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage.

Rather, two figures such as N250, 000 from labour and N62,000 from government and Organised Private Sector, OPS, were arrived at and ought to have been submitted to the President.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has urged labour, to be realistic in their demand for a new minimum wage for workers, saying that the relief Nigerians were expecting would not come only in the form of an increase in wages but from other packages lined up by the government.

In a statement by Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, acting President, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, labour noted that anything to the contrary was not only doctored but won’t be accepted by labour.

Reacting to the President’s speech, Adeyanju, said: “The NLC attentively listened to the Democracy Day presidential address delivered by Senator Bola Tinubu, especially concerning the ongoing National Minimum Wage negotiations. While the President may have accurately recounted parts of our democratic journey’s history, it is evident that he has been misinformed regarding the outcome of the wage negotiation process.

“We appreciate the President’s commitment to those fine democratic ideals, which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups. However, we had expected Mr President to have used this understanding as one of those who were in the vanguard of the struggle with us around the nation to rescue Nigeria from the hands of the military to harmonise the two figures submitted to him by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and masses. It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift.

“The NLC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the Federal Government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components. Our demand remains N250,000 and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position, which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process.

“We are, therefore, surprised at the submission of Mr. President over a supposed agreement. We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC. There was none and we must let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix-up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage. We have also not seen a copy of the document submitted to him and will not accept any doctored document.

“However, we want to reaffirm our belief that the President on whose table the Tripartite Committee’s report presently resides would prepare an Executive Bill, which content will reflect the true demand of Nigerian workers. We think that this is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and the masses by shunning the pieces of advice that may be coming from those whose intentions are continuously focused on hurting the poor and struggling workers of Nigeria. Mr President should not allow these individuals and groups to sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty.

“President’s advisers did not tell him the truth that the leaders of the trade unions were intimidated and harassed. It is, therefore, important that Mr President understands that we were threatened severally by his operatives perhaps without his consent.

“Series of media propaganda calculated to intimidate and harass us were, and, are still being waged against the trade unions by senior officials of this government. Fully armed soldiers surrounded us while we were in a negotiation with the government and despite denials, recent statements by senior officials of the government reaffirmed our fears contrary to the assurances by the government. “However, we remain assured that the President’s democratic credentials will come to the fore in favour of Nigerian workers and masses.

“It is also important that Mr. President should know that most of his officers are working round the clock to set up the leadership of Congress and the trade unions. We never agreed on a 5-year duration of the minimum wage Act though we acknowledge that the President mentioned 5 years or less.

“We also agreed that inflation should be pegged at a level for a certain amount to be agreed as minimum wage. This is to bring clarity to what the report should contain.”

FG to labour: Relief will not come only from an increase in wages

Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, who spoke at the opening of the 2024 Synod of the Charismatic Bishops Conference of Nigeria held in Abuja, said: “On the matter of the new minimum wage, which the FG is very committed to reviewing, realistically and sustainably.

“As I have repeatedly said, FG is not opposed to the increase of wages for Nigerian workers but we keep on advocating a realistic and sustainable wage system for the workers a wage system that
will not undermine the economy, lead to mass retrenchment of workers and jeopardize the welfare of about 200 million Nigerians.

“We want labour to understand that the relief that Nigerians are expecting, and that they fully deserve, will not come only in the form of an increase in wages.

“It will also come as efforts to reduce the cost of living and to ensure that more money stays in the pockets of Nigerians. And this is where programmes like the Presidential CNG initiative come in,” adding that the CNG programme alone, by replacing or complementing petrol usage with CNG, will cut transportation costs by as much as 50 per cent.