Labour Negotiations at Impasse as Minimum Wage Talks Stall Again

By Joke Kujenya

A CRUCIAL tripartite negotiation involving the Federal Government, organized labour, and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) reached another deadlock Tuesday as minimal progress was made on the contentious issue of a new national minimum wage.

None of the six governors who are part of the negotiation committee were present, except for Hope Uzodimma, the governor of Imo State.

The meeting has been rescheduled to Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Organized labour, which initially reduced its wage demand from N615,000 to N500,000 and later to N497,000, faced an increased offer from the OPS, moving from N54,000 to N57,000.

Despite this slight adjustment, labour representatives promptly rejected the new offer, expressing frustration over the government’s lack of substantial concessions.

It was disclosed that during the meeting, labour unions found the N57,000 proposal unacceptable, highlighting the ongoing hardship faced by workers compared to the increasing affluence of political elites.

“The government has increased its revenue from crude oil sales significantly, yet workers continue to suffer,” it was stated.

Criticism was directed at the government’s spending priorities, including substantial allocations for luxury vehicles for officials, renovations of Senate chambers, and subsidies for religious pilgrimages, contrasting sharply with their claims of insufficient funds for wage increases.

“The state governors are receiving three times more than before the subsidy removal, yet they ask workers to accept minimal increases,” said a labour representative.

The labour unions emphasized that they did not cause the socio-economic challenges stemming from the removal of petrol subsidies and the devaluation of the national currency, arguing also that the government should bear the brunt of these decisions, not the workers.

As the negotiations remain deadlocked, labour representatives have signaled potential industrial actions post-May if their demands are not adequately addressed.

The next round of negotiations is set to continue next Tuesday, with both sides under pressure to find a resolution to prevent further industrial unrest.

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