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Labour, Tripartite C’ttee chair trade words over minimum wage


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LAGOS — Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, Bukar Goni Aji, has asked Labour to reconsider the amount it demanded as minimum wage, citing the prevailing economic situation in the country.

He listed such incentives as the N35,000 wage award for all treasury-paid federal workers, N100 billion for procurement of gas-fuelled buses and conversion to gas kits, the N125 billion conditional grant, financial inclusion to small and medium scale enterprises and the N25,000 each to be shared to 15 million households for three months as reasons Labour should accept the N62,000 offered by the government, against its demand of N250,000.

But Labour in a swift reaction, accused the Tripartite Committee chairman of lacking knowledge of the hardship and suffering workers and other Nigerians were going through.

Recall that organised labour is a member of the tripartite committee of a new minimum wage.
Labour’s reaction came as Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, said lean resources were responsible for governors’ rejection of N62,000 minimum wage.

This is even as the Anglican Communion yesterday asked the federal and state governments to pay workers a living wage, charging them to maintain fiscal prudence and accountability.

However, the Tripartite Committee chairman also cited the N185 billion palliatives loans to states to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal and N200 billion to support the cultivation of hectares of land to boost food production.

He said there is another N75 billion to strengthen the manufacturing sector and N1 trillion for student loans for higher education.

He cited the release of 42,000 metric tonnes of grains from strategic reserves and purchase and onward distribution of 60,000 metric tonnes of rice to the millers’ association.

Goni urged Labour to consider the recent salary increase of 25 per cent and 35 per cent on all consolidated salary structures for federal workers and the 90 per cent subsidy on health costs for federal civil servants registered on the health insurance programme and accept the N62,000 being offered by the Federal Government.

He said the light rail commissioned in Abuja is to relieve transportation costs until end of the year, describing it as a landmark achievement that will cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.
He said in addition to “the freedom of civil servants to engage in agriculture, the Federal Government has approved the inclusion of ICT services for alternate sources of income”.

He said the committee agreed that where major and small businesses were closing down with the consequent loss of jobs, the outcome of a new minimum wage should be such that it would not trigger further massive job losses.

He further said that linking the strike to electricity tariff hikes with the wage determination was not fair to the negotiating parties.

You‘re ignorant of hardship in Nigeria, Labour tells c’mittee chairman

Replying to the Tripartite Committee chairman yesterday, Labour insisted that its demand was based on the nationwide survey which delineated the stark economic realities for the average Nigerian family.

Speaking on behalf of Labour, one of Labour’s negotiators in the Tripartite Committee tasked the chairman to urge the government to make its offer reflect the economic conditions and the cost of living faced by workers

He said: “We have carefully considered the chairman’s appeal for organised labour as represented by Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, to take into account the prevailing economic realities in the ongoing national minimum wage negotiations with the federal government and the organised private sector.

“We understand the complexity of the economic situation. However, it is imperative to address several critical points that underpin our stance.

“The call for NLC and TUC to consider economic realities is, at best, a reflection of a limited understanding of the actual hardships faced by Nigerian workers. The nationwide survey we conducted clearly delineates the stark economic realities for the average Nigerian family.

“The cost of living has escalated dramatically, driven by governmental policies that have led to increased prices of petrol, higher electricity tariffs, and a significant devaluation of the naira.

These policies have created a situation where basic needs of workers are increasingly unaffordable.

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