Reports suggest that the Nigeria labour Congress in Nigeria is gearing up for a potential meeting with both federal and state governments due to the apparent lack of advancement in negotiations for a new minimum wage for employees in the public sector. The potential for labour unions to resort to industrial actions cannot be discounted, as stated by their representatives. The reason behind their dissatisfaction is closely related to the lack of action from the Federal Government in establishing a committee to engage in discussions regarding the revised minimum wage. The negotiations are on hold as the Federal Government is yet to appoint its representatives, but the labour unions have already indicated their willingness to commence talks with their negotiators on standby.
The surging inflation rates seen in the nation have resulted in a substantial surge in the overall expenses of livelihood, due to the incessant soaring of prices for various commodities and services. This unfortunate situation has gravely impacted the ability of an average Nigerian citizen to afford their necessary purchases, significantly eroding their purchasing power. The demands for a significant revision of the current wage structure for employees have led the labour unions to take an active stance in their attempts to bring about change.
Minimum wage should be increased from ₦30,000 to ₦200,000.
In the Sunday edition of a report, one finds a recollection from June 2023, where employees and a few representatives of the workforce united in their plea to augment the minimum wage from ₦30,000 to ₦250,000. Eventually, the sum was readjusted to ₦200,000 on a monthly basis. Chris Onyeka, the Assistant General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, brought to light the fact that a considerable number of employees are now facing the daunting challenge of being unable to cover their rental expenses or fulfill their financial obligations towards their children’s education.
Moreover, he expressed his deep sorrow over the fact that a significant number of public servants had resorted to commuting on foot due to the staggering rise of transportation expenses, which reached nearly triple its previous cost. After years of negotiations, the labour force and the government finally reached an agreement on April 18, 2019, leading to an increase in the minimum wage from ₦18,000 to ₦30,000. Paying heed to the new minimum wage of ₦30,000, the Federal Government underscored the imperative for all governors from the 36 states of the federation to abide by this obligation.
Without FG’s meeting, the Labour Union will resort to industrial action.
As of now, a number of states are still in the process of incorporating the law; however, there are those that have not yet taken any action to enforce it. The Organised Labour executives made it clear that they had designated individuals who would be meeting with the representatives from the Federal Government on the committee responsible for reviewing the National Minimum Wage. As mandated by legislation, it is the duty of the committee to conduct thorough supervision over negotiations and forward insightful recommendations regarding suitable wage rates that accurately reflect the ever-evolving economic conditions to the Federal Government.
If the government persists in its careless approach towards the matter, the Trade Union Congress is said to have issued a warning, stating that they will resort to industrial action. In April 2024, a new minimum wage was eagerly anticipated, and Tommy Etuk, Deputy President of TUC, stressed the need for the timely establishment of the wage review committee. However, to everyone’s dismay, the committee had not yet been formed as it should have been by this point. The absence of a consensus on the evaluation of minimum wage renders any attempts at resolution futile. It is with certainty that this situation paves the way for discord within industries.
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Hence, in order to rectify this, the government must promptly establish the committee, allowing it to commence its deliberations in a timely manner. This will provide an opportunity to identify areas of contention as well as common ground, while adhering to the principles of collective bargaining. By doing so, they can ultimately reach a mutual understanding. In accordance with a published article, Etuk argues that it is more favourable to proactively determine the offering intended for the organized labour, instead of waiting until the last moment. Adopting a contrary approach will not yield the desired outcome.