Labour Stays Strike, Awaits Presidential Verdict on New Minimum Wage

By Joke Kujenya

THE 37-MEMBER Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage submitted its comprehensive report to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume, on Monday.

Established on January 30, 2024, by President Bola Tinubu under the provisions of the Minimum Wage Act of 2019, the committee marks a critical step towards resolving the ongoing minimum wage debate.

Under the leadership of Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji, the committee was assigned the vital task of proposing a new national minimum wage for both public and private sector employees in Nigeria.

After several months of detailed deliberations and assessments, the committee completed its mission and submitted the report on Monday, June 10, 2024.

The SGF acknowledged the committee members’ dedication and sacrifices in completing this significant task.

He indicated that a formal presentation of the report to President Tinubu would be scheduled following the return of leaders from Organized Labour and representatives from the government and Organized Private Sector, who are currently attending the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

He also remarked that this report submission marks a critical step towards establishing a revised minimum wage framework intended to improve the livelihoods of Nigerian workers, adding that the government will now review the recommendations and work towards implementing the proposed changes to enhance economic stability and worker welfare in Nigeria.

On this stance, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has announced that it will not proceed with the strike action initially scheduled for Tuesday to demand a new national minimum wage.

NLC President Joe Ajaero made this known during the ongoing International Labour Conference in Geneva.

Speakin, Ajaero clarified that the figures presented by the Tripartite Committee are now with President Tinubu, making it premature for organized labour to initiate a strike.

The committee submitted two proposals: N62,000 from the government and employers, and N250,000 from labour.

“The tripartite committee submitted two figures to the President. Government and employers proposed N62,000 while labour proposed N250,000. We are awaiting the President’s decision. Our National Executive Council (NEC) will deliberate on the new figure when it is announced,” Ajaero explained.

He further emphasized that a strike cannot be declared at this stage since the figures are under presidential review. “During the tenure of the immediate past President, the proposed figure was N27,000, which was increased to N30,000. We are hopeful that this President will make a fair decision, given the significant difference between N62,000 and N250,000,” Ajaero added.

Ajaero also criticized state governors, particularly those under the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), for rejecting the N62,000 minimum wage proposal, questioning their refusal to pay the proposed wage while calling for its decentralization; saying “How can any governor say he cannot pay?

They cannot also be calling for decentralization of the minimum wage. Are their wages decentralized?” he asked.

Highlighting the example of Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, who pays a minimum wage of N70,000, Ajaero urged other governors to emulate such commitment. “This is the type of governor that should be emulated and not the lazy ones,” he asserted.

Organized labour has also confirmed there will be no strike action on Tuesday as negotiations with the FG continue.

Labour had relaxed its strike action for one week to facilitate ongoing discussions aimed at determining the new minimum wage. The deferral period concludes today.

Ajaero reiterated that the final decision rests with President Tinubu, and the NLC’s National Executive Council will deliberate on the new figure once it is released.

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