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Govt proposes new minimum wage to labor union

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By Abraham Adekunle

Is this a step forward or a missed opportunity for both govt and workers?

The Federal Government of Nigeria has proposed a new Minimum Wage of ₦54,000, a significant increase from the previously proposed ₦48,000. This development comes after a walkout by the Organised Labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), during the last meeting with the Tripartite Committee. The labor unions had demanded a minimum wage of ₦615,000, citing the current economic situation and the needs of an average Nigerian family of six.

Again, the proposed ₦54,000 minimum wage is still a far cry from the labor unions’ demand, and it remains to be seen whether they will accept this offer. The NLC has been adamant that the government’s previous proposal of ₦48,000 was “paltry” and “insulting” to Nigerian workers. The union’s president, Joe Ajaero, has argued that the proposed amount does not meet the needs and aspirations of workers, and that the government’s failure to provide substantiated data to support their offer undermines the credibility of the Negotiation process.

Labor union has been pushing for an increase for a while.

Meanwhile, the remuneration debate in Nigeria has been ongoing for several years, with labor unions pushing for a significant increase to reflect the country’s economic realities. The current minimum remuneration of ₦30,000, which was implemented in 2019, has been deemed insufficient by many, given the high Cost Of Living and the Devaluation of the Naira. Nigeria’s minimum wage is one of the lowest in Africa, and it has not kept pace with Inflation and Economic Growth. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the salary in Nigeria is only about 20% of the average monthly salary in the country.

This means that many workers are not earning a living wage, and are struggling to make ends meet. The proposed ₦54,000 minimum wage is still a relatively low amount, considering the high cost of living in Nigeria. For example, the average cost of a bag of rice is around ₦25,000, and the average cost of a litre of petrol is around ₦180. With a salary of ₦54,000, workers would still struggle to afford basic necessities, let alone enjoy a decent standard of living.

Government must engage in good faith negotiation.

Furthermore, the proposed salary does not take into account the stark disparity between the public and private sectors. As noted by the OPS, even the least paid workers in the Private Sector receive ₦78,000, which is significantly higher than the proposed minimum wage. This highlights the unwillingness of employers and the government to faithfully negotiate a fair national remuneration for workers in Nigeria. The labor unions have been pushing for a significant increase in the minimum remuneration to reflect the current economic realities and to ensure that workers earn a living wage.

As well, the proposed ₦54,000 minimum wage is a step forward, but it is still a missed opportunity to address the fundamental issues facing workers in Nigeria. To address the minimum wage issue, the government and employers must engage in good faith negotiations with labor unions and take into account the current economic realities. The government must also provide substantiated data to support their offers and ensure that the negotiation process is transparent and credible to all.

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In addition, the government must also address the issue of Poverty and inequality in Nigeria. The country has one of the highest poverty rates in the world, with over 80 million people living below the poverty line. The minimum wage is just one aspect of the broader issue of poverty and inequality, and the government must take a comprehensive approach to address these issues. The government must also invest in Education and skills development to ensure that workers have the necessary skills to compete in the modern Economy. This will help to increase Productivity and economic growth, and ensure that workers earn a decent wage.


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