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Breakdown: Why we are demanding N615,000 minimum wage – Labour Congress

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Breakdown: Why we are demanding N615,000 minimum wage – Labour Congress

The ongoing negotiations for a new minimum wage have not been successfull following the inability of the Federal Government and organised labour to reach a consensus on the issue.

The President’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr Bayo Onanuga, in an interview with PUNCH, faulted workers’ insistence on the  N615,000 minimum wage.

He said the government and labour unions had not agreed on the amount for the minimum wage.

But the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, defended workers’ demand, insisting that the organised labour would not accept any amount that would impoverish its members.

President Bola Tinubu, had in January, set up a tripartite committee consisting of the government, labour and private sector representatives to review the N30,000 minimum wage introduced by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Last month, the two central labour bodies in the country, the NLC and the Trade Unions Congress, submitted a proposal of N615,000 minimum wage to the committee.

The government failed to announce the new minimum wage at the May Day celebration on Wednesday as it had not accepted labour’s demand.

READ ALSO: “A waste of time”, Labour Congress rejects salary increase for civil servants

Top officials of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the issue, said while the organised labour was insisting on N615,000 minimum wage,  the government and the private sector were proposing between N60,000 and N70,000, resulting in a stalemate in negotiations.

However, the NLC president, Ajaero, during an interview on Channels Television on Wednesday, said the proposed N615,000 minimum wage was arrived at after an analysis of the current economic situation and the needs of an average Nigerian.

He described as mischievous the pay rise of between 25 and 35 per cent for civil servants across various consolidated salary structures announced by the Federal Government on Tuesday.

He added, “We should be in the regime of a new minimum wage as of today. Discussions were supposed to have been concluded.

“The Federal Government through the National Assembly legislated on it. But we saw that the discussion entered voice mail because the Federal Government refused to reconvene the meeting that was adjourned.

“I think the announcement now appears mischievous because there is no wage increase that the government is announcing. For them to announce it now, it is an issue that we are worried about at the NLC and even at the TUC.”

Ajaero further said organised labour had agreed on N615,000 as the living wage for civil servants.

“Living wage is such that will, at least, keep you alive. It is not a wage that will make you poorer and poorer. It is not a wage that will make you borrow to go to work. It is not a wage that will lead you to be in the hospital every day because of malnutrition. For that living wage, we have tried to look at N615,000.

“Let me give you a breakdown of how we arrived at that figure. We have housing and accommodation of N40,000. We asked for electricity of N20,000 — of course, that was before the current tariff increase. Nobody can spend this amount currently. We have a utility that is about N10,000. We looked at kerosene and gas, that is about N25,000 to N35,000.

“We looked at food for a family of six, that is about N9,000 in a day. For 30 days, that is about N270,000. Look at medical, N50,000 provided there will be no surgery or whatever.

“For clothing, we looked at N20,000. For education, N50,000. I don’t know about those who tried to put their children in private schools, they will not be able to cope with this amount. We also have sanitation of N10,000.

“I think where we have another bulk of the money is transportation. This is because the workers stay on the fringes and because of the cost of petrol, which amounted to N110,000.

“That brought the whole living wage to N615,000, and I want anyone to subject this to further investigation and find out whether there will be any savings when you pay somebody on this rate,’’ the NLC president explained.

But notwithstanding the stalemate in negotiations for a new minimum wage, President Bola Tinubu said his administration was poised to give workers better living and working conditions buoyed by  “a fair living wage.”

In his address to workers at Eagle Square, Abuja, Tinubu revealed that despite its efforts, the Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage, established on January 30, 2024, could not reach a consensus at its last meeting with organised labour which was held on Monday.

Tinubu, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, explained, “You would recall that on January 30, 2024, the Federal Government convened a 37-member Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage. The committee’s mandate was to provide counsel and suggest a national minimum wage that aligns with our current economic conditions.

“Since then, the committee, in collaboration with labour leaders, has been diligently working towards proposing a new National Minimum Wage.

“Unfortunately, despite concerted efforts, the committee was unable to reach a consensus at its last meeting.”

However, he promised to resolve the impasse to ensure the announcement of a living wage soon.

“This shall be resolved soon and I assure you that your days of worrying are over. Indeed, this government is open to the committee’s suggestion of not just a minimum wage but a living wage,” he stated.

In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity earlier, Tinubu affirmed that his administration remained committed to improving the welfare of all workers through various relief programmes including the wage award and the imminent minimum wage review.

“President Tinubu strongly believes that the custodians of the nation’s machinery deserve a fair wage and enhanced welfare and that a labourer is deserving of not just any reward but fair and commensurate wages.

“The President assures Nigerian workers of his dedication to not only improving their welfare but also enhancing their working conditions and providing the necessary tools for them to succeed.

“Tinubu saluted Nigerian workers for their fidelity to the peace, progress, and development of the nation evident in their tireless efforts and patriotic zeal to keep the national engine running,” the statement read.

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