Minimum Wage: ₦‎250,000 Demand Not Sacrosanct – TUC Says

Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Festus Osifo said yesterday that there was nothing sacrosanct about the N250,000, adding that labour was receptive to adjustments.

There was no immediate response from the federal government last night on the latest stance of organised labour, although the Senate yesterday pledged to grant accelerated consideration and passage of the new minimum wage bill from President Bola Tinubu.

Only last Wednesday, the acting President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Prince Adewale Adeyanju, said labour’s demand “remains N250,000, and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position, which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process.”

Adeyanju was responding to the Democracy Day broadcast of President Bola Tinubu in which he said an agreement had been reached on the new national minimum wage.

Osifo himself in his first reaction to the FG and OPS agreement on N62,000 as minimum wage penultimate Friday had said “for us (labour), we felt that with the current economic hardship and the difficulty in the land, the sum of N250,000 should be what will be okay as the minimum wage.

But speaking yesterday on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, The Morning Brief, he said there was “no figure that is sacrosanct; there is no figure that is cast in stone that both parties will be fixated on it.”

He added: “What we said is that for us, when we give figures, there is always a room to meander; there is always a room for us to do some adjustment here and there.

“One of the reasons that we went on industrial action the last time was because when it got to N60,000, they told us that a kobo could not even join the N60,000; that they could not even add one naira to it.

“So that was one of the reasons that led to that industrial action beyond the fact that there were also delays.”

President Tinubu is expected to send an executive bill to the National Assembly on the new minimum wage for legislative action.

The TUC President said that they are not going to pre-empt the President, but they are making all efforts to justify why Tinubu should tilt towards the figure presented by the labour instead of the one by the organised private sector and the government.

He said that if the President sends a figure that is not favourable to the labour to the National Assembly, they will still approach the lawmakers and push them to do much more.

Osifo vowed that the work of the labour leaders will not end until the Minimum Wage Act 2024 becomes law. He said it is premature to predict what labour will do if what is passed is not acceptable to them at the end of the day.

The FG and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) had on Friday, May 31 reached an agreement to pay N62,000 to their least paid worker; an increase of N2,000 on the N60,000 rejected two weeks ago by labour.

The 36 states, which were represented on the Tripartite Committee on the minimum wage, said on the same day that they could not afford to pay even N60,000 while the NLC and the TUC disagreed with government and the OPS.

They said the minimum they would accept was N250,000, which is N244,000 less than the N494,000 they initially demanded.

The Tripartite Committee has already submitted its report and recommendation to the President, who is expected to take a decision on the final figure to be sent by way of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for consideration.

The TUC President said while labour was not disposed to pre-empting the President on his decision, the unions were keen on ensuring that Tinubu tilts toward the figure presented by labour instead of the N62,000 by government and OPS.

He said should the President decide on a figure labour finds unfavourable, it will take its struggle to the lawmakers to convince them for an increase.

He said it was premature to predict labour’s reaction if the action of the executive and the legislature turns out to be unfavourable.

Tinubu, at a state dinner to mark Democracy Day on Wednesday had declared that his planned minimum wage is “what Nigerians can afford, what you can afford and what I can afford.”

He added: “Cut your coat according to your size, if you have size at all.”

Apart from the state governments which have expressed their inability to pay even the N60,000 which labour had rejected prior to the June 3 and 4 strike, signals from the local governments also suggest that they cannot pay N62,000.

National President of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Aminu Muazu-Maifata, said on Thursday that the LGs could not pay that amount.

Muazu-Maifata said some local governments have not even been paying their workers the ₦30,000 approved as minimum wage in 2019.

He said an affordable minimum wage should be set and not something unsustainable.

Senate will give Tinubu’s proposed Bill expeditious passage, says spokesman

Speaking yesterday ahead of the expected arrival of the executive bill on the new minimum wage, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Yemi Adaramodu, promised that it would be given accelerated consideration and passage.

But he said it would be subjected to accepted legislative processes.
He spoke to reporters in Abuja.

Adaramodu said the Senate would pass the Bill without compromising on standard legislative procedures in lawmaking.

Asked if the Senate would pass the minimum wage bill like it passed the New National Anthem Bill within a few days, Adaramodu said: “Yes, if immediately after Sallah the Bill is brought by Mr. President to the National Assembly, it’s going to be dealt with at the speed of lightning.

“We are going to pass it because it is for the benefit of Nigerian workers. Even if it is possible within 30 minutes, we will do that.

“But it depends on the content of the Bill because the bill will go through the crucibles of the passage of a bill.

“We are not going to sit down and just say that the Bill has been passed. We will go through the crucibles. So within the time, if there is no opposition from outside, if there is no opposition from within, there can never be opposition from within because it’s going to be a kind of agreement between Labour, government and organised private sector.

“So once that one is there and then it comes to us, we will go through the processes without delay and make sure that Nigerian workers get their deal.”

On whether the Senate would take into consideration the position of the State Governments that they cannot afford to pay the N62,000 proposed by the Federal Government, Adaramodu said: “Since they are all meeting, we know that at the end of the day, all of them will agree on the figure, because when it’s an executive bill, an executive bill means state executive, federal executive and even local government executive.

“So definitely there is going to be an agreement. So once there’s an agreement, the bill will come and I don’t think any of the components of the negotiating bodies will oppose the agreed figure at the end of the day.

“So we don’t have any fear about that. You know when you are negotiating, you negotiate from various parameters and parallels. So at the end of the day, all the lines will converge and meet at a concentric point.

So that’s where we now come in. We come in at the end of the tunnel and then we’ll pick it from there and make it into law so that we can have a better deal for Nigerian workers.”

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