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Monday, July 15, 2024

Minimum wage: Strike may end today as Nigerian government and unions reach deal

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The unions’ indefinite strike could end soon after unions reached an agreement with the federal government on a new national minimum wage on Monday night.

The agreement was reached at a meeting convened by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, in Abuja. The meeting was also attended by the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, indicating the importance given to him by the Bola Tinubu administration.

Although no amount was agreed upon as the new minimum wage, the parties agreed that the federal government would accept a figure higher than the N60,000 it is currently offering.

The Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Monday began an indefinite strike to force the government to agree on a new minimum wage for workers as well as review the increase in the price of electricity for some consumers.

Monday’s agreement was signed by NLC president Joe Ajaero; his counterpart in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo; the Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, and the Minister of Labour, Nkiruka Onyejeocha.

“The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria undertakes to establish a national minimum wage exceeding N60,000,” the agreement states.

READ ALSO: Minimum wage: Nigerian government urges NLC and TUC to stop strike and continue negotiations

To accelerate a final agreement on the new minimum wage, the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage will meet daily over the next week. The goal is to reach an acceptable minimum wage that meets the expectations of both the government and the unions.

Article page with promotion of financial support DOCUMENT: NLC and TUC agree with the Federal Government to suspend the strike.

“From the above it follows that the Tripartite Committee will meet every day for the next week with a view to arriving at an acceptable National Minimum Wage;

“In deference to the high esteem of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the commitment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in (ii) above undertakes to convene a meeting of its bodies immediately to consider this commitment; and Part of the agreement is the guarantee that no worker will be victimized for participating in the industrial action.”

DOCUMENT: NLC and TUC agree with the Federal Government to suspend the strike.

Following the agreement, NLC and TUC leaders are expected to meet the executives of their unions and those of other affiliated unions on Tuesday to inform them and seek their approval to call off the strike. That approval is likely to be granted and the strike subsequently called off.

Background

The unions had previously said: “The current minimum wage, by law, expired on April 19, 2024, requiring an urgent review.”

They said the recent increase in electricity tariff for a category of Nigerians is an unsustainable burden on businesses and workers.

They condemned the government’s proposal of N60,000 as the new minimum wage, higher than the current minimum wage of N30,000, but far below the N495,000 requested by the unions.

They argued that the government’s offer is insufficient and shows a lack of sensitivity to the financial struggles faced by workers due to government policies such as the removal of petrol subsidy, devaluation of the naira and increase in electricity tariffs.

“The government’s counter-offer makes a mockery of the terrible hardship its callous and oppressive economic policies cause workers,” the unions said.

The unions emphasized that their demand for a new national minimum wage is in line with international standards and legal requirements.

The conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO), specifically Convention 26 of 1928 on mechanisms for fixing minimum wages and Convention 131 on the fixing of minimum wages, require member countries to establish a minimum wage that provides workers with workers a decent wage. Nigeria ratified these conventions and since 1961 the law has required a national minimum wage.

Nigeria introduced its first minimum wage in 1981, setting it at 125 naira (about $188 at the time), which is equivalent to 282,000 naira at current exchange rates.

However, the real value of wages has decreased significantly, pushing many workers into poverty.

PREMIUM TIMES reported that the strike called by the unions began on Monday morning. It paralyzed activities in public places such as airports, schools and hospitals, while many private businesses such as banks and power companies were also affected.

In an earlier statement on Monday, Idris said President Tinubu is committed to addressing Nigeria’s economic problems through humane and thoughtful policies.

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