Meeting adjourned as Labor Party rejects new offer of N54,000

Unions have again rejected the latest N54,000 minimum wage offer made by the federal government during the resumption of national minimum wage negotiations on Tuesday.

The impasse led to the meeting being postponed until Wednesday following the inability of union leaders and government representatives to reach a consensus.

This was the third time that Nigerian Labor Congress and Trade Union Congress officials and government representatives failed to find common ground on the national minimum wage.

Last week, union leaders walked out of a meeting organized by the tripartite committee on minimum wage negotiations after the federal government offered to pay N48,000.

At the same time, the organized private sector made an initial offer of N54,000 in response to the union’s proposal of N615,000.

NLC National President Joe Ajaero insisted on a minimum wage of N615,000, arguing that the figure was arrived at after an analysis of the current economic situation and the needs of an average Nigerian family of six.

He accused the government of failing to provide substantiated data to support its offer, saying this undermined the credibility of the negotiation.

To bring workers back to the negotiating table, the Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, Alhaji Bukar Goni, informed the group that the government had agreed to increase the N48,000 it had earlier proposed.

However, at Tuesday’s meeting, the government proposed N54,000, but the workers insisted on their demand for a living wage of N615,000.

Labor officials, who were aware of the negotiation, said the federal government increased its offer from N48,000 to N54,000.

The sources declined to be named because they were not allowed to reveal details of the negotiation to the media.

Offer of 54,000 naira

One of the officials said: “Well, during the meeting, the government increased its offer from 48,000 naira to 54,000 naira. However, the unions rejected that offer and the meeting was postponed until Wednesday (today).”

Another source claimed: “They didn’t show any seriousness at all. As for the private sector, we did not contact them before the meeting adjourned, but we hope that they will also increase their initial offer.”

Furthermore, speaking anonymously, a senior union leader said the government was embarrassed by its offer “because it knew it was unrealistic and it knew it was not going to be accepted.”

“They knew it was shameful to offer workers such a paltry sum. The negotiation has not started; The negotiation can only begin when the government shows seriousness in the negotiation,” he stated, warning the state governors and the PAHO.

He added that the unions could not negotiate the salary reduction because private sector workers received N77,000.

Ajaero and Usifo could not be reached for comment on the stalled meeting as calls to their phones rang. They did not respond to messages seeking comment on the development.

But the Deputy Chairman of the NLC Political Commission, Professor Theophilus Ndubuaku, told The PUNCH that the federal government was deliberately frustrating Nigerian workers.

Ndubuaku claimed that the government was not showing empathy despite knowing that the masses were struggling to adapt to the hardships and inflation caused by its policies.

He said: “We are worried about this government. It was as if we were negotiating with people who were not Nigerians. They behave like expatriates or people from outer space. We don’t understand it.

“They offered N54,000 as minimum wage, as if they expected us to negotiate a deregulated wage structure. As things stand now, no one earns less than N77,000.

“Remember that there was a minimum salary of N30,000 plus the N35,000 they added as salary bonus. Before then, there was a 40 per cent increase in the existing salary, bringing the total to N77,000. Now, imagine how they offer us something much lower than what workers are expected to take home.”

He added: “Imagine if we came out of that negotiation accepting those terms, wouldn’t the Nigerian workers harass you? This government does not know the implications of what it is doing.

“This has never happened before anywhere in the world where everything, including food, is increasing and one is focusing on declining wages in a country where hardship affects everyone. “It seems to us that these people are joking or are from outer space.”

On the next course of action being considered by the NLC after the fiasco, Ndubuaku said the unions will return to the negotiating table on Wednesday, where they will decide whether to tell workers to stay home until the federal government comes up with an acceptable offer. . .

“Plan B is that we have postponed until tomorrow (today). But if they continue with this joke, the workers themselves will give them the answer to that joke.

“We will have to tell them that we didn’t make it and that everyone should stay home. This is how it will be until they wake up,” he stated.

The Federal Government could not be reached for comment as Information Minister Mohammed Idris did not return calls and a message was sent to his line.

The group fails the government

Commenting on the impasse, the Democratic and Workers Rights Campaign described the N48,000 and N54,000 minimum wage proposals put forward by the President Bola Tinubu-led government and OPS as a big joke.

The CDWR, in a statement by its National President, Rufus Olusesan, and its National Publicity Secretary, Chinedu Bosah, observed that the N48,000 offered by the Tinubu-led government was a natural response “from a government whose agenda to grow the exploitative capitalist economy is to further enrich a few privileged people and impoverish the working masses.”

The group stated: “The capitalist government and private business owners have always stated that there is no money to pay workers a living wage, but there is money readily available for frivolity, waste, insane privileges and the payment of gigantic salaries and allowances. to high political positions. office holders and management personnel.

“Members of the National Assembly purchased SUV vehicles worth N57.6 billion. This is one of numerous examples of waste that have become the hallmark of the capitalist ruling elite. While workers earn their wages through their productivity, the capitalist ruling elite is a parasite on the economy.”

The CDWR said the NLC and TUC leaders were wrong when they refused to resist “neoliberal anti-poor policies and instead sought to secure some remedy for Nigerian workers through wage review.”