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Are critical stakeholders’ perspectives on the Nigeria Labour Congress’s push for N1 million minimum wage reasonable?

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Private sector states fault Labours push for N1m

Pertinent voices from the organized private sector, Ekiti, Sokoto, and several states have raised concerns over the Nigeria Labour Congress’s quest for a N1 million minimum wage, deeming it impractical. Joe Ajaero, the NLC President, has implied that the labor might demand N1 million during the minimum wage negotiations with the Federal Government if the naira’s value continues to depreciate.

In response to this proposal, Idris Mohammed, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, conveyed that the Federal Government would make a reasonable decision in accordance with national interest and after a thorough consideration of available resources and other pertinent factors.

In recent months, the costs of goods and services have surged following the removal of the fuel subsidy, while the naira’s value has continued to decline due to the forex crisis.

Previously, the NLC and Trade Union Congress had pegged their minimum wage demand at N200, 000. However, Ajaero argued in a recent interview that the food inflation and the high cost of living had rendered their previous demand unfeasible.

When prompted about the possibility of the unions’ demand reaching N1 million, Ajaero noted, “This N1 million may be relevant if the value of the naira continues to depreciate, if inflation persists. The demand of Labour is equally reliant on the prevailing societal circumstances.”

Exchange rate

“You will remember that when we were contemplating N200,000, the exchange rate was about N900. 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. We have always stated that our demand will be based on the cost of living index,’’ Ajaero further added.

Ajaero also highlighted the skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs, expressing concern that the organized Labour would not accept a minimum wage that wouldn’t even cover transportation costs for a week.

The labor leader further lamented the Federal Government’s failure to honor the agreement signed with the organized Labor last October, emphasizing the non-implementation of the N35,000 wage award meant for federal workers over six months.

In addition, he called attention to the lack of evidence of payment of the N25,000 palliative to workers, as agreed, citing the situation in the humanitarian ministry and the absence of testimony from farmers regarding the receipt of fertilizers from the government.

The delay in constituting the minimum wage committee was also raised, with Ajaero expressing disappointment that the committee had not commenced sitting despite the forthcoming expiration of the old minimum wage by April.

In response to the labor’s suggestion, the information minister, Idris, emphasized the need to await the final decision of the 37-man minimum wage negotiation committee, which includes representatives of Organized Labor.

Similarly, Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Taiwo Olatunbosun, dismissed the N1 million minimum wage proposal by the NLC president as unrealistic, stressing the importance of realistic negotiations for both labor and the government.

He reiterated the need for discussions to ensure a feasible outcome given the available resources within the state.

Echoing a similar sentiment, representatives from Sokoto and Benue State governments advised the labor leadership to present a practical minimum wage demand, considering the prevailing economic circumstances.

The Sokoto State Commissioner for Information advised caution and realism in labor’s demands during negotiations, emphasizing the need for practicality in the course of discussion.

The Benue State Commissioner of Finance and Budget Planning also acknowledged the workers’ struggles but emphasized the need for labor leaders to understand the limitations posed by the economy.

Similarly, a representative of the Kebbi State governor assured the labor leaders of the state’s readiness to engage in fruitful negotiations to determine an acceptable new minimum wage.

Various other state representatives and industry leaders expressed skepticism over the plausibility of the N1 million minimum wage, citing economic constraints and the need for practical and sustainable negotiations.

Overall, the demand for a N1 million minimum wage has sparked debates and raised concerns about feasibility and practicality, with a call for a realistic approach and in-depth considerations of economic factors.

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