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June 17, 2024

Labour, Tripartite C’ttee chair trade words over minimum wage

minimum wage

By Victor AhiumaYoung, Henry Umoru, Omeiza Ajayi & Haruna Aliyu

LAGOS — Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, Bukar Goni Aji, has asked Labour to reconsider the amount it demanded as minimum wage, citing the prevailing economic situation in the country.

He listed such incentives as the N35,000 wage award for all treasury-paid federal workers, N100 billion for procurement of gas-fuelled buses and conversion to gas kits, the N125 billion conditional grant, financial inclusion to small and medium scale enterprises and the N25,000 each to be shared to 15 million households for three months as reasons Labour should accept the N62,000 offered by the government, against its demand of N250,000.

But Labour in a swift reaction, accused the Tripartite Committee chairman of lacking knowledge of the hardship and suffering workers and other Nigerians were going through.

Recall that organised labour is a member of the tripartite committee of a new minimum wage.
Labour’s reaction came as Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, said lean resources were responsible for governors’ rejection of N62,000 minimum wage.

This is even as the Anglican Communion yesterday asked the federal and state governments to pay workers a living wage, charging them to maintain fiscal prudence and accountability.

However, the Tripartite Committee chairman also cited the N185 billion palliatives loans to states to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal and N200 billion to support the cultivation of hectares of land to boost food production.

He said there is another N75 billion to strengthen the manufacturing sector and N1 trillion for student loans for higher education.

He cited the release of 42,000 metric tonnes of grains from strategic reserves and purchase and onward distribution of 60,000 metric tonnes of rice to the millers’ association.

Goni urged Labour to consider the recent salary increase of 25 per cent and 35 per cent on all consolidated salary structures for federal workers and the 90 per cent subsidy on health costs for federal civil servants registered on the health insurance programme and accept the N62,000 being offered by the Federal Government.

He said the light rail commissioned in Abuja is to relieve transportation costs until end of the year, describing it as a landmark achievement that will cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.
He said in addition to “the freedom of civil servants to engage in agriculture, the Federal Government has approved the inclusion of ICT services for alternate sources of income”.

He said the committee agreed that where major and small businesses were closing down with the consequent loss of jobs, the outcome of a new minimum wage should be such that it would not trigger further massive job losses.

He further said that linking the strike to electricity tariff hikes with the wage determination was not fair to the negotiating parties.

You‘re ignorant of hardship in Nigeria, Labour tells c’mittee chairman

Replying to the Tripartite Committee chairman yesterday, Labour insisted that its demand was based on the nationwide survey which delineated the stark economic realities for the average Nigerian family.

Speaking on behalf of Labour, one of Labour’s negotiators in the Tripartite Committee tasked the chairman to urge the government to make its offer reflect the economic conditions and the cost of living faced by workers

He said: “We have carefully considered the chairman’s appeal for organised labour as represented by Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, to take into account the prevailing economic realities in the ongoing national minimum wage negotiations with the federal government and the organised private sector.

“We understand the complexity of the economic situation. However, it is imperative to address several critical points that underpin our stance.

“The call for NLC and TUC to consider economic realities is, at best, a reflection of a limited understanding of the actual hardships faced by Nigerian workers. The nationwide survey we conducted clearly delineates the stark economic realities for the average Nigerian family.

“The cost of living has escalated dramatically, driven by governmental policies that have led to increased prices of petrol, higher electricity tariffs, and a significant devaluation of the naira.

These policies have created a situation where basic needs of workers are increasingly unaffordable.

“Our demand for a national minimum wage of N250,000 is not arbitrary but firmly grounded in the economic realities dictated by the current market prices of essential goods and services.

“The prices of basic commodities have skyrocketed, and the purchasing power of the average Nigerian worker has been severely eroded. It is crucial to recognize that Labour’s demand is based on comprehensive data reflecting the true cost of living in Nigeria today.

“We may wish to remind the chairman that a bag of 50kg Rice is about N80,000, a decent tuber of yam is about N7, 000; garri is N3,500 for half paint bucket, bread is N2,000 per loaf, meat is about N6,000/kg, oil is about N2,000/75L, electricity is about N50,000/month, while transport is about N3,000 daily to and from Gwagwalada to Berger in Abuja and N4, 000 from Ipaja to Lagos Island daily etc.

“The chairman should know that our wages are supposed to meet these basic needs and others and these are some of the realities that he asked us to base our demands on which we have done since the beginning of the negotiation exercise.

“It is rather disappointing that government’s offer appears disconnected from these market realities. When we requested a breakdown of what constitutes the government’s offer, the response was not forthcoming.

‘’This lack of transparency suggests that the government is perhaps aware that its offer does not meet the basic economic needs of Nigerian workers, thereby undermining its credibility. Perhaps, government may be ashamed of the paltriness of the offer it is making to Nigerian workers, thus it is too heavy for them to mention.

“We urge you to redirect your advice towards the government to be realistic in its approach to this negotiation. The government’s offer should reflect the actual economic conditions and the cost of living faced by workers.

“It is not the NLC that is being unrealistic; rather, it is the government’s offer that fails to align with the economic dictates of the marketplace. A realistic and fair minimum wage must be grounded in the current economic realities, which our demand of N250,000 though falls short of what we had intended but accurately represents realities at this time. As it is, we have considered more than enough.

“We wish the government will at least show the kind of willingness to sacrifice that we have exhibited and reciprocate. Good leaders make sacrifice for the citizenry. They must give up on some of their security votes, their luxury yacht, convoys, private jets and other creatures of comfort so that Nigerian workers and people can benefit.

“We plead with the chairman to urge the government to be realistic and refuse the temptation to seek to pay a starvation wage to Nigerian workers. Our nation must not be destroyed so that the few individuals in government will continue to live in opulence while workers and citizens suffer.

“We reiterate that the NLC’s position is driven by a deep understanding of the economic hardships faced by Nigerian workers, as substantiated by our nationwide survey.

‘’We stand firm in our demand for N250,000 as the national minimum wage and urge the government to present a realistic offer that genuinely reflects the cost of living and the dignity of Nigerian workers. ‘’We call upon the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee Chairman to advocate fairness and transparency in this critical wage setting exercise. The resources of our nation need to be equitably and fairly distributed for national development.”

Lean resources responsible for govs rejection of N62,000 minimum wage — Budget minister

Speaking on the issue in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State, weekend, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu, said lean resources were responsible for governors’ rejection of N62,000 minimum wage offered by the federal government.

Speaking against the background of new minimum wage for Nigerian workers, Senator Bagudu explained that the N62000 arrived at was reluctantly accepted by states and local governments due to limited resources accruing to them.

He said: “The constitution has made provision to guide the President to send legislation to the National Assembly periodically on issues of minimum wage for the best outcome.

“The Tinubu administration wants all Nigerians to be skilled as its first priority under a skill based economy where the people, including workers, can earn millions of naira

“The President intends to make Nigerians more prosperous with cheap housing, cheap food, cheap transport and availability of structures for national growth and development.

“President Tinubu and Governor Nasir Idris of Kebbi State are doing the very best to improve the living condition of the people in all sectors of life, I commend and congratulate them on the occasion of the Eid-el Kabir.’’

Anglican Church demands living wages for workers

Meanwhile, the Orthodox Anglican Communion has charged the federal and state governments on the need to maintain fiscal prudence and accountability, saying it would be good if the government gave Nigerian workers a living wage.

The church made the demands in a communique issued at the end of the First Session of the First Synod of its Diocese on the Confluence which held at the Cathedral Church of the Enlightened Christian in Ajaokuta, Kogi state.

The communique, jointly signed by the Diocesan, Most Rev Dr. Moses Suberu and the Clerical Synod Secretary, Rev Canon Abraham Ornyor, read: “The synod calls the governments to come to terms and logical conclusion with the organized labour as regard the national minimum wage.

‘’The synod calls on the present dispensation to give Nigerians a living wage and something worth going home with. Nigerians should not be slaves in their homeland

“The Synod, therefore, calls on the government at all levels to ensure discipline, prudence and accountability in the use and disbursement of government resources. Also, production at a levels should be encouraged while all aspects of agriculture should be developed to enhance our national economic fortunes.”

It, however, appreciated efforts of both the federal and state governments in tackling the menace of kidnapping and banditry in all parts of the nation.

“The Synod calls on the citizens of Nigeria to abide by all security measures put in place to safeguard the nation. When you see something, say something

“The increasing rate of poverty in Nigeria which has turned Nigeria into the poverty capital of the world is unacceptable. The Synod, therefore, calls on both the federal and state governments, including the local governments, to put schemes in place to empower Nigerians.

“The Synod views with concern the deplorable conditions and state of our basic infrastructure such as our highways, electricity, medical institutions and facilities and our educational institutions.

“The Synod, therefore, calls on the federal and state governments to hasten the completion of all on-going road projects and ensure the rehabilitation of existing roads. The need for steady supply of power should also be looked into by the regulatory bodies to ensure that the private power distribution companies abide with the regulations to guide their operations and relationship with consumers.

“While appreciating the federal government for the efforts made so far in the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company and Itakpe Iron Ore, the Synod calls on the federal government to expedite action for the immediate take off of these two giants of our economic and technological base.

“The Synod calls on the federal government to reinforce the strategy of federal security and also devolve powers to the state for the establishment of supportive security outfits at the local level to compliment the efforts of the federal security agencies to stem this tide of insecurity.

“The Synod views with grave concern the unending and systematic persecution of Christians in the northern part of the nation and calls on the federal government to halt this evil,” the communique added.

Minimum wage: Accept whatever FG offers you above N60,000, Senate leader tells NLC, TUC

Also, the Senate Leader, Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele, APC, Ekiti Central, yesterday pleaded with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, to accept whatever the federal government offered them above N60,000 as the new minimum wage.

Bamidele urged the NLC and TUC to toe the path of dialogue and peace in the negotiation for a new minimum wage, for which the President had promised to send a bill to the National Assembly.

He reiterated the need for Nigerians to demonstrate more patriotic spirit and oneness in their daily activities as the nation journeys through its socio-political trajectory towards the promised land.

Bamidele, who made the call in his Eid-el-Kabir message yesterday, said: “ The federal government has conceded to N60,000, which translates to a 100 per cent increase. But both NLC and TUC turned down this offer, leading to a two-day industrial action.

“The federal government has promised to make more concessions in this respect. As the federal government reveals its new offer, I plead with organised labour to accept it in the national interest.

‘’The economy will remain in this condition. Collectively, we are taking multi-pronged measures to reverse disturbing economic indicators.”has conceded to N60,000, which translates to a 100 percent increase. But both NLC and TUC turned down this offer, leading to a two-day industrial action.”