June 3, 2024

Minimum wage: Some states yet to pay ₦30,000, ₦494,000 impossible — FG

Minimum Wage

File image of government and Labour representatives at a previous meeting.

By Miftaudeen Raji

The Federal Government said the Organized Labour’s demand for ₦494,000 as minimum wage is impossible because some states are yet to pay the ₦30,000.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha stated this in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday.

She, however, appealed to the Organised Labour to shelve its ongoing industrial action which has crippled economic activities in the country.

Onyejeocha said the Federal Government is not the sole decider of a new minimum wage as it must be determined by state governments and the Organised Private Sector.

The minister said, “The Federal Government takes into cognisance that it’s the tripartite committee that would also ensure that if Mr A agrees to pay, it has to pay,”

According to her, some state governments still can’t pay the ₦30,000 minimum wage agreed by the tripartite committee in 2019 let alone the ₦494,000 wage demand by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

She said, “Remember that when ₦18,000 minimum wage was agreed upon, certain states couldn’t pay. After that, ₦30,000 minimum wage, some states couldn’t pay as we speak.

“So, it’s not something you decide for people… the Federal Government does not have that power to impose,” she added.

Onyejeocha said “the ₦494,000 is highly impossible” as the new minimum of the country, fearing that many businesses won’t be able to cope with the payment of such a wage and that it would lead to massive job losses.

The minister said the economic loss of the strike in the last 24 hours have been huge as businesses, airports, universities, hospitals and power supply were affected.

Onyejeocha said with the “hardship” inflicted on Nigerians in the last 24 hours since the strike commenced, labour should rescind its decision, suspend the strike and come back to the negotiation table to arrive at a realistic wage for workers in the country.

According to her, the new minimum wage must match the productivity and affordability of the private sector and not just be agreed upon and announced to gratify labour.

She argued that beyond the agreement on a new living wage, the place of sustainability in payment by all members of the tripartite committee must be considered.

The labour minister appealed to the aggrieved unions to consider the ₦60,000 offer by the government and the Organised Private Sector, saying the ₦494,000 demand by the Organised Labour would push up Nigeria’s inflation beyond the current 33.69%.

Onyejeocha said the Federal Government is not unserious about the matter as implied by the labour unions, adding that the government is committed to giving the country a new and realistic minimum wage.