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Organized Labour in Nigeria has firmly rejected the proposal to set the new minimum wage at N100,000, emphasizing that such an amount is insufficient to meet the basic needs of workers and their families.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the primary bodies representing Organized Labour, are in ongoing negotiations with the government to revise the national minimum wage.

Last Wednesday, the labour unions walked out of a negotiation meeting after the government proposed a new minimum wage of N48,000. In response, Alhaji Bukar Goni, chairman of the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage, sent a letter inviting Organized Labour to further discussions, signaling the government’s willingness to reconsider its position and urging the unions to also be flexible.

Benson Upah, the NLC Head of Information and Public Affairs, stressed the need for the government to approach the negotiations with seriousness and realism. The NLC is demanding a minimum wage of N615,000, which they argue is based on detailed calculations of basic living costs. Upah outlined that their calculations include modest estimates for accommodation (N40,000) and food (N500 per meal for a family of six), among other essentials.

“The government hiked electricity tariffs by 250% after we made our demand, which has further increased living costs,” Upah told Vanguard.

Prof. Theophilus Ndubuaku, a member of the NLC delegation, also criticized the proposed N100,000 minimum wage as grossly inadequate, pointing out that it fails to cover basic living expenses for a worker with a family of six. He noted that even artisans in the private sector earn more than N100,000 per month. Ndubuaku further criticized the government’s spending priorities, questioning large expenditures on non-essential projects and imported goods while neglecting worker welfare.

Ndubuaku urged the government to justify any lower wage proposals by transparently demonstrating financial constraints and outlining measures to create wealth and reduce governance costs. “If the government argues it can’t afford N615,000, it should clearly demonstrate why, showing its revenue and spending priorities,” Ndubuaku stated.

Organized Labour insists that any final agreement on the minimum wage must consider the overall economic context and the need to improve the living standards of Nigerian workers. The ongoing negotiations highlight the significant gap between the government’s proposals and the demands of labour unions, with a focus on achieving a wage that truly reflects the cost of living for Nigerian workers and their families

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