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NLC To Embark On Strike As Minimum Wage Talks End In Futility | Citizen NewsNG

ByCitizen NewsNG

May 29, 2024

NLC Members 



The threat of a nationwide strike looms as negotiations over a new minimum wage between the Federal Government and organized labour ended in deadlock for the sixth time.

The Tripartite Committee on the new National Minimum Wage failed to reach an agreement, heightening tensions and the likelihood of industrial action.

Organized labour, represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), walked out of the committee meeting for the second time in two weeks.

This followed the Federal Government’s increased offer of N60,000, up from the N57,000 proposed on May 22.

Earlier, on May 15, the labour unions walked out after the government offered N48,000 and the Organized Private Sector (OPS) proposed N54,000, against the N615,000 demanded by labour.

Last week, the government and private sector had increased their offer to N57,000, while labour reduced its demand to N497,000.

At yesterday’s meeting, the government and OPS added N3,000 to their previous offer, bringing it to N60,000. Labour, in turn, reduced its demand by N3,000 to N494,000 before walking out once again.

NLC President Joe Ajaero confirmed the deadlock, stating, “The government is not serious with the negotiation. They just added N3,000 to their offer last week.

“The painful aspect is that the government team is not giving any explanation to its offer. We equally removed N3,000 from our demand and left.”

Ajaero emphasized the urgency of the situation, noting that labour had given the government until May 31 to conclude negotiations to avoid industrial unrest.

“We have an ultimatum pending on the minimum wage and electricity tariff. We are waiting for the ultimatum, including the government.

“There are still days remaining before the ultimatum expires. On our part, we know what to do when the ultimatum expires.”

An anonymous source at the meeting told Punch that: “We walked out again. They (the Federal Government) added N3,000. We reduced by N3,000.

“We anticipated they would come up with another gimmick because we have been telling them to break down what they are offering the way we broke ours down.

“They have refused consistently because breaking it down would expose their inadequate provisions for basic needs like food and transportation.”

The source further highlighted that the last offer of N30,000 in 2019 was equivalent to $84, and the current economic conditions have drastically reduced its value.

“When we got to the meeting today, they increased from N57,000 to N60,000, and the organized private sector aligned with them. We did not want them to adjourn because we are heading for a strike from the first of next month (June). I do not think they can reconvene before that time“, he said.

The government team, represented by the Minister of State for Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, announced the N60,000 offer, but the mood among government representatives was somber. The source added, “The government side is not even in a good mood. Members know they are in a very difficult situation.”

The governors were notably absent from the meeting, a point of contention noted by labour representatives. “The governors don’t want to get involved because they do not want to pay,” the source said.

Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), representing OPS, stressed the need to focus on job security amid the economic challenges. He noted that many companies have shut down or relocated, further complicating the ability to pay higher wages.

Oyerinde said, “The private sector is on the precipice of collapse, with massive consequences for jobs. It will be practically impossible to guarantee enterprise sustainability and job security with the current demands of organized labour.”

The meeting was adjourned, with the labour negotiating team seeking further consultations. The date for reconvening will be set by the committee’s secretariat.

As the deadline approaches, the nation watches closely, anticipating the possibility of a significant strike action if an agreement is not reached.

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