Minimum Wage Talks Resume Today, Labour Insists on May 31 Deadline

After several weeks of hiatus, the tripartite committee set up by the Federal Government will meet today, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, sources confirmed to our correspondent in Abuja on Monday.

Labour unions remain firm on their proposal of a ₦615,000 minimum wage and insist on a May 31, 2024 deadline.

This development follows the Federal Government’s failure to present a nationally acceptable minimum wage after the old one expired on April 18, 2024.

President Bola Tinubu, through Vice President Kashim Shettima, inaugurated the 37-member tripartite committee on January 30, 2024, to establish a new minimum wage. The committee includes representatives from federal and state governments, the private sector, and organized labour.

During the inauguration, Shettima urged the committee to expedite their work and submit their report promptly. The committee is chaired by former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Goni Aji.

A zonal public hearing was held on March 7, 2024, in Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, and Abuja. Various figures for a living wage were proposed by the NLC and the TUC across different states, reflecting the economic challenges and high cost of living.

The NLC proposed ₦794,000 for the South-West, while the TUC suggested ₦447,000. Other regions proposed amounts ranging from ₦485,000 to ₦850,000. Ultimately, organized labour proposed ₦615,000 as a living wage.

Since the March 7 hearing, there has been little news about the committee’s progress. However, three competent sources confirmed to The PUNCH that the committee will meet on Wednesday. One source emphasized the need for the Federal Government to conclude the minimum wage process by May 31, warning of potential actions if the deadline is not met.

The sources also stressed that the Federal Government should present a realistic and fair offer to benefit both workers and the economy. Increased wages would boost workers’ purchasing power and stimulate economic growth.

Confirming the meeting, the National Vice-President of the TUC, Tommy Etim, reiterated the unions’ stance on the ₦615,000 proposal and the May 31 deadline.

Previous reports indicated a stalemate, with the government and the private sector proposing between ₦60,000 and ₦70,000, far below the unions’ demand. NLC President Joe Ajaero defended the ₦615,000 proposal, citing the current economic situation and the needs of an average Nigerian family.

Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, suggested a middle-ground approach but criticized the government’s lack of commitment to labour issues.

Despite varying opinions, the committee’s meeting today aims to find a resolution to the minimum wage issue before the May 31 deadline.

This article is sourced from The Punch newspaper, with minor edits and adaptations by The Spectacles for clarity and readability.