• May embark on strike    • Tinubu assures of better days, promises to announce ‘living wage’ soon



From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja




The hopes of workers were dashed when the Federal Government failed to announce the much-anticipated new minimum wage increase, yesterday.

President Bola Tinubu, has, however, promised to implement a living wage that reflects the current economic conditions.

Speaking during the celebration of the May Day event at the Eagle Square in Abuja, Tinubu said the tripartite Committee has been working diligently towards proposing a national minimum wage for workers. He regretted that it was unable to reach a consensus at its last meeting.

Tinubu, who was represented by the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, said: “You would recall that on January 30th, 2024, the Federal Government convened a 37-member Tripartite Committee on Minimum Wage. The committee’s mandate was to provide counsel and suggest a national minimum wage that aligns with our current economic conditions. Since then, the committee, in collaboration with labour leaders, has been diligently working towards proposing a new National Minimum Wage. Unfortunately, despite concerted efforts, the committee was unable to reach a consensus at its last meeting. This shall be resolved soon and I assure you that your days of worrying are over.

“Indeed, this government is open to the committee’s suggestion of not just a minimum wage but a living wage.

“On this momentous day, I urge you and all our fellow citizens to place your trust in this administration. The seeds of greatness planted in our nation are beginning to bear fruit, and they promise a future filled with hope and bound by prosperity.

“Let me assure you, with the utmost sincerity, that every initiative undertaken by this administration is geared towards transforming Nigeria into a nation that can truly provide for its people.

“So, I call upon each and every one of you, as I have consistently done, to join hands in shaping the destiny of our nation towards greatness. Our allegiance and patriotism are the bedrock upon which our beloved country thrives. The success of our government’s policies and programmes hinges on the willingness of the workers, as the backbone of our workforce, to embrace them wholeheartedly. I appeal to you to continue using the power of the labour movement for the greater good of our nation, fostering harmony and cooperation.

Tinubu restated commitment to addressing insecurity in the nation. “We took office at the time many nations, including ours, were experiencing daunting socio-political and developmental challenges. Yet, we are resolute in confronting these obstacles head-on. The scourge of criminality, from banditry to kidnapping and the farmer-herder crises, alongside terrorism, continues to afflict our nation despite the tireless efforts of our armed forces. We are aware of the toll this takes on our economy. I assure you: we are fully committed to tackling these security challenges.”

Similarly, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, in her remarks, assured workers that soon the tripartite Committee would announce the new minimum wage, adding that it would take effect from May 1, 2024 when agreed upon.

“Our commitment is unwavering: the Nigerian workers should be rest assure that despite the short delay, the new minimum wage will take effect on May 1st, 2024. Moreover, this government is receptive to the committee’s suggestion of transitioning beyond a mere minimum wage to a living wage that truly reflects the value of workers’ contributions.”

She urged all stakeholders to embrace a spirit of cooperation, understanding, and patriotism, coupled with diligence and increased productivity.

“By working together, we can lift our nation out of poverty and usher in an era of prosperity for workers and citizens alike. Rest assured that this government empathizes with the struggles of workers and citizens and will not falter in its commitment to their well-being.”

Onyejeocha said it was unacceptable for any worker to toil tirelessly and still struggle to make ends meet, hence, the ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to pay Wage Award to workers and review of the National Minimum Wage by a tripartite Committee.

She said this was to ensure that every worker received a fair living wage that would enable them to live with dignity, provide for their families, and contribute to the growth of the economy.

The minister also affirmed government’s commitment to placing the needs and aspirations of workers at the forefront of the national agenda.

She said this was through the provision of fair and just working conditions which were not just ideals but basic human rights.

“This is because every worker deserves to work in an environment free from exploitation, discrimination, and oppression. We must, therefore, strive to create workplaces that foster dignity, respect, job security and inclusivity for all.”

She urged all stakeholders to embrace a spirit of cooperation, understanding, and patriotism, coupled with diligence and increased productivity.

She added that by working together, we could lift our nation out of poverty and usher in an era of prosperity for workers and citizens alike.

Despite the flowering promises, the Organised Labour has threatened to disrupt industrial peace and harmony, if the negotiation of the National minimum wage by the tripartite Committee is not concluded by the end of May.

Speaking jointly, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, and his Trade Union (TUC) Counterpart, Festus Osifo, said they had placed their figure at N615,000, based on the current economic realities.

They said workers were not only demanding a new minimum wage, but a living wage, like their counterparts all over the world.

The two labour leaders further called  for an upward review of retirement age in public service from 60 years to 65 years, and 35 years to 40 years. They noted that the past administration had increased that of teachers and judges, hence the need to consider other civil servants.

The two labour leaders urged  its members to be vigilant and remain hopeful as better days are ahead.

“At this point comrades, we want to inform you that the process of fixing a new national minimum wage is still continuing. All the parties in the Tripartite process are well represented and the engagement has been robust. We have placed our demand of N615,000 (Six hundred and fifteen thousand Naira) only before our social partners while we await their offer.

“Remember that earlier in the year, we sent questionnaires to all of you across the nation with which we sought to measure the actual cost of living for an average family of six. Your response to that questionnaire which you also administered across the 776 GAs assisted us in arriving at the figure with minor adjustments.

“Placed before them also is our demand that the new act shall have a two-year life with an agreement for automatic adjustment in wages any time inflation exceeds 7.5%. We have also demanded that every employer with up to five workers in his employ shall pay the new minimum wage and have also asked for the strengthening of monitoring and compliance mechanisms to penalize non-complying state governments.

“We have done this with the understanding that Nigerian workers deserve to have a national minimum wage that approximates a Living wage. Our figures are based on objective realities around the nation and not based on some fantasy but on what confronts us as workers around the nation.

“We hope that our social partners will see the reality of what we have done and the demands that represent our basic needs to expedite action so that the process will come speedily to an end given the painstaking effort we have put across the nation. We want to be able to buy rice, beans, bread, Housing, clothes, pay school fees, Medicare, pay electricity bills etc. Any Wage that is below the Living Wage condemns workers to starvation and we are sure that our social partners would not want that.

“However, it is important that we urge every worker around the nation to remain vigilant as this process winds to an end. We must not let our guards down but be alert so that together, we can assist the government take the right decision and pay workers a living wage as promised by our President; his Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu during his inaugural speech. We will not allow other interests to sabotage the desire of the president concerning a Living wage for workers.

“If, however, the negotiation of the National Minimum wage is not concluded by the end of May, the Trade Union Movement in Nigeria will no longer guarantee industrial peace in the country.”