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Labour Slashes New Minimum Wage to N500,000




By Stephen Asaba-ase

There are strong tendency that the organised Labour will push for N500,000 as the minimum wage from the first position of N900,000.00. The zonal public hearing on the new wage structure commenced on Thursday (today) in Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, and Abuja.

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, in an interview on Arise TV on February 11, had said that if the current inflation continues, labour union might push for a new minimum wage of up to N1m for Nigerian workers.

However, a top official of the NLC, who confided in The Congress news on Thursday said that based on proposals submitted by state chapters to the Congress’ headquarters, the organised Labour Union might push for N500,000 at today’s meeting.

The public hearing on the new minimum wage, which will be held concurrently in all six geopolitical zones, is expected to receive inputs from the organised Labour, state governors, ministers, civil society groups, and the organised private sector on a new minimum wage based on the current economic predicaments and the workers’ demand.

A reliable source disclosed to Congress news that the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, would preside over the meeting in the North-East taking place in Yola, the Adamawa State capital.

The Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, would superintend over the South-West hearing taking place in Lagos.

President Bola Tinubu was represented by his deputy, Kashim Shettima, on January 30, 2024, inaugurated a 37-men committee on the new minimum wage at the Council Chamber of the State House in the Federal capital territory, Abuja.

The organized Labour union cut across the federal, state governments and the private sectors, the panel is to propose a new national minimum wage for the country on or before April 1 following the expiration of the current N30,000 minimum wage as stipulated by the law.

Meantime, the trio committee met a few times in Abuja, it is yet to discuss the slated amount for the minimum wage.

Ajaero said the demand from the organised labour union would be influenced by the cost of living which has been increasing since President Bola Tinubu assumed office, notably due to the removal of the fuel subsidy and other policies.

He that, “ N1m may be relevant if the value of the naira continues to depreciate; if the inflation continues unchecked because the demand of the labour union is equally dependent on the inflating trend of the society.

“You will remember that, the time we contemplate on N200,000 (as minimum wage), the exchange rate was N800/N900 (to a dollar). As we talk today, the exchange rate is about N1,400 or even more.

“Those are the issues that determine the demand and it is equally affecting the cost of living. And we have always said that our demand will be based on the cost of living index. You will agree with the NLC today that even a bag of rice is going for about N60,000/N70,000 or more.

“Foodstuff is getting out of hand, now that we are talking about getting a new minimum wage that will not be enough for transportation for one week”.

“Meanwhile, one of the official, who spoke in confidence because he was not asked to speak with the media on the negotiation, stated that the cost-of-living analysis carried out in states was N900,000.

“In reality, what they gave us from the states when we remove expenses is over N500,000, as the cost of living of an average family to survive.

“But we know that when NLC deflates it taking into consideration some of the things we think are padded, it will come to around slightly over N500,000,” he said.

He added, “ The NLC has done some scientific research on these parameters and the N30,000 that was paid. If you divide N30,000 in the last five years considering the amount can purchase now, and how much a worker is to earn to buy the same thing, that’s nearly about N300,000 for that same amount.”

He, however, said the NLC’s demand would depend on the proposals submitted to its headquarters from state and local government chapters.

“So, the reality is that the NLC will not ask for a national minimum wage that would be less than what the people from all the local governments in Nigeria have given us.’’

The official confirmed that Ajaero would preside over the hearing in Yola, the capital of Adamawa state.

He said, “There will be a zonal public hearing on the National minimum wage in all six geopolitical zones concurrently on Thursday (today).

“The president of Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, is the chairman of the meeting in the North-East taking place in Yola; there is also a meeting in the South-West, South-East, and South-South in Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja, and other states.’’

According to him, the NLC state chapters do not negotiate the national minimum wage because they are not members of the trio panel.

As the zonal public hearing takes off today, the state chapters of the Trade Union Congress in Ogun and Katsina have called for the minimum wage to be retained on the exclusive legislative list.

The Ogun State TUC Chairman, Akeem Lasisi, declined to speak on the amount being demanded as the minimum wage by his union, noting that the union’s national leadership would provide the direction in that regard.

However, he insisted that the government comply with the International Labour Organisation convention on labour remuneration.

Lasisi stated further, “The national leadership will give us the agreed amount but we are demanding that the clause in the last minimum wage that says ‘minimum wage affects only employers of labour with 50 workers should be removed.’

“It should affect everybody. Nigeria must comply with Convention 131 of the International Labour Organisation

“We are also demanding the National Minimum Wage be retained in the exclusive legislative list because a country must have a national minimum wage.

“I am submitting a memorandum at the public hearing. I want the national (TUC leadership) to give us the directive before I release it.’’

The Katsina State NLC Chairman, Husseini Hamisu, said the council would present at the public hearing.

“We have been invited and we shall be there. I will not be there but I am sending my representative I’m on my way to Abuja now for another official assignment,” he disclosed.

The state TUC chairman, Muntari Lawal, said he would make a presentation about “a befitting minimum wage for workers.”

He added, “We shall also suggest that the issue of national minimum wage be on the exclusive list.”

Speaking in the same tone, the Kwara State NLC Chairman, Muritala Olayinka, insisted that workers’ wage should be retained in the exclusive list and be determined by the Federal Government.

He disclosed that the North-Central meeting would be held in Abuja.

He argued, “There should be no difference in the salary paid to the federal and state workers because they buy food and other goods from the same market but allowances should vary from state to state.’’

The labour leader suggested that state governors ought to attend the zonal meeting of the minimum wage committee.

Warning against any delayed implementation of the envisaged new minimum wage, Olayinka stated, “We want the implementation of the minimum wage at the federal and the state levels to take off at the same time because we don’t want the state governments to complain that they don’t know what was discussed on the new minimum wage.’’

“If the government has the funds to purchase vehicles of about N160m for each Senator and N130m for each member of the House of Representatives, it should not complain that there is no money when it comes to workers salaries,” Muritala cautioned.

The Sokoto State Commissioner for Information, Sambo Danchadi also comment that the state government had not make any decision whether the minimum wage should be moved to the concurrent list.

“If I have to give my personal opinion, I would have said move the minimum wage from the exclusive list to the concurrent list to allow governors of each state to determine the minimum wage of their workers.

“I’m sure if you look at it, the economy of this state cannot be compared to that of Lagos state or Rivers state. So, allowing every state to determine their wage will be a good thing,” he added.

For the Kano State Commissioner of Information, Baba Dantiye, the issue of whether the minimum wage should be removed from the exclusive list to the concurrent list has to be discussed in the State Executive Council.

“The issue has not come to the Executive Council for discussion but as soon as a decision is reached surely it will be made known to the public,” Dantiye said.

The labour leaders in Kebbi, Bayelsa, Benue, Kano, Ekiti, Rivers and Delta, have also said they would be at the meeting to summit their demands.

The Kebbi state NLC Chairman, Murtala Usman, said that we have been called for the meeting. I am sure you know it is already segregated into zones and we in the North-West, ours is to take place in Kano.

The labour leaders in Benue said they would present their demands to the committee during its sitting today.

Chairmen of the state chapters of NLC and TUC, Terungwa Igbe and Gideon Akaa, spoke to Congress news in separate phone interviews.

But while the NLC proposed N300,000 minimum wage for workers, the TUC said N150,000 is a realistic demand.

“The meeting will be held in Abuja on Thursday; our demand as labour from Benue State is N300,000,” Igbe said.
“We also request that the Federal Government should ensure, exchange rate to comes down and stabilize economy, if not the demand for N500,000 as minimum wage will make no sense, when foreign exchange rate continues to rise”,

Bayelsa TUC

The Bayelsa State TUC said its proposed minimum wage will not be different from the demands of TUC representatives committee in the zonal meeting.

The state TUC chairman, Julius Laye, said, “We are invited. The zonal sitting will take place at Ibom Hall, IBB Way, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Speaking with one of our correspondents, the Delta State TUC Chairman, Mathine Bolum said he is going to streamline their demands with the union’s national leadership.

The TUC Chairman in Ekiti state, Sola Adigun, affirmed that the labour centres in the states comprising the Southwest is thinking for a common front.

The TUC state chairman, however, assured that the labour Union would not short-change its members in the bid to have a new national living wage

“By the grace of God, TUC Ekiti State under my leadership will be represented there to present our positions. However, the governors are trying to organize with a laudable solution, TUC in the Southwest wants to do likewise,” he stated.