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NLC: No Agreement Reached on Minimum Wage

NLC: No Agreement Reached on Minimum Wage

The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, and others.

Organised Labour has refuted President Bola Tinubu’s claims that an agreement on a new national minimum wage was reached, as stated in his Democracy Day address.

In his broadcast marking Democracy Day 2024, Tinubu announced that a consensus had been achieved on the new minimum wage between the Federal Government and organised labour and that an executive bill would soon be sent to the National Assembly to formalize the agreement.

President Tinubu emphasized his administration’s preference for a democratic approach over dictatorship in addressing labour union demands. However, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, the acting President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), countered in a Wednesday statement, asserting that no agreement had been reached by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage as of the end of negotiations on June 7, 2024.

Adeyanju clarified that two figures were proposed: N250,000 by Organised Labour and N62,000 by the government and Organised Private Sector, and these figures should have been submitted to the President. He stressed that any contrary assertion was doctored and unacceptable to Labour.

“We reiterate that it will be extremely difficult for Nigerian workers to accept any national minimum wage figure that approximates a starvation wage. We cannot be working and yet remain in abject poverty,” Adeyanju stated.

He added that while President Tinubu might have accurately recounted parts of Nigeria’s democratic journey, he had been misinformed about the wage negotiation outcome. Adeyanju pointed out that the NLC had neither reached an agreement with the government and employers on a base figure for the National Minimum Wage nor its other components.

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The statement reads, “We appreciate the President’s commitment to democratic ideals which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups. However, we had expected Mr. President to harmonize the two figures submitted by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and the masses. It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift.

“We are therefore surprised at the President’s submission of a supposed agreement. We believe he may have been misled into thinking there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC. There was none, and it is important that we clarify this to avoid confusion in the ongoing minimum wage conversation. We have not seen a copy of the document submitted to him and will not accept any doctored document.”

Adeyanju also highlighted that President Tinubu’s advisers did not inform him about the intimidation and harassment of trade union leaders, stressing that the NLC was surrounded by armed soldiers during negotiations with the Government. Despite this, he expressed hope that the President’s democratic credentials would ultimately support Nigerian workers and the masses.

This response from the NLC follows President Tinubu’s address, which suggested a resolution had been achieved on the wage discussions, causing confusion and discontent within Organised Labour ranks.

President Tinubu had also stated, “In this spirit, we have negotiated in good faith and with open arms with organized labour on a new national minimum wage. We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less. In the face of labour’s call for a national strike, we did not seek to oppress or crack down on the workers as a dictatorial government would have done. We chose the path of cooperation over conflict. No one was arrested or threatened. Instead, the labour leadership was invited to break bread and negotiate toward a good-faith resolution.

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“Reasoned discussion and principled compromise are hallmarks of democracy. These themes shall continue to animate my policies and interaction with the constituent parts of our political economy.”

 

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