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‘N494,000 Minimum Wage Unrealistic’ – Labour Party Sides with Tinubu Gov’t Against NLC

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LAGOS, Nigeria — The Labour Party, LP, in Nigeria has called on workers’ unions to re-negotiate with the government on a new minimum wage instead of resorting to industrial action.

This appeal comes amid a nationwide strike declared by organised labour over demands for a new minimum wage.

Obiora Ifoh, the Labour Party’s National Publicity Secretary, made this plea during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, June 3, 2024, in Lagos.

He stressed that a strike would only exacerbate Nigerians’ current economic challenges.

“Our immediate reaction is that the organised labour should not throw Nigerians into more hardship. Nigerians are already grappling with a lot of challenges and we do not need to exacerbate the situation,” Ifoh said.

He added, “I think the demand for ₦494,000 minimum wage is unrealistic. It is really unrealistic. It is a figure that cannot be sustained because it will imply that Nigeria will take all that money it has to pay the civil servants.”

Ifoh emphasised the importance of continued negotiations between the labour unions and the Federal Government to reach an acceptable compromise.

“Negotiation should continue until they get something better. Asking Nigerian workers to stay at home will affect everything, including the cost of living, and Nigerians cannot afford that now. Negotiation is not a one-off thing,” he said.

He also suggested that the labour unions should consider working with the government’s current offer while continuing to negotiate for a higher wage.

“If the Federal Government is not willing to go above ₦60,000 minimum wage, I think that the Organized Labour should work with what is available while it continues to negotiate. We know this government has not gotten it right. It is still trying to test the waters,” he added.

The nationwide strike commenced on Monday despite earlier pleas from the Federal Government for consideration.

The industrial action follows a series of unsuccessful negotiations involving the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), and government representatives.

On May 28, labour representatives walked out of the Tripartite Committee meeting on minimum wage after the government increased its offer from ₦57,000 to ₦60,000. The government and the Organised Private Sector had initially proposed ₦48,000, then ₦54,000, and ₦57,000, all of which were rejected by labour.

Organised labour had also proposed ₦615,000 as the new minimum wage but later reduced the demand to ₦497,000 and then to ₦494,000 to reflect the rising cost of living.

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