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Labour union to attend talks over minimum wage

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The Organised Labour has agreed to attend the negotiation meeting of the Tripartite Committee on the Minimum Wage scheduled for Tuesday.

This confirmation came from the Vice President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Etim Okon, during an interview on Monday in Abuja.

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the TUC had previously walked out of a negotiation meeting after the Federal Government proposed a new minimum wage of N48,000 for workers. The unions felt this proposal was inadequate. “The proposal falls significantly short of meeting our needs and aspirations,” the unions said.

Labour also accused the government of not providing sufficient data to support their offer. “The lack of transparency and good faith undermines the credibility of the negotiation process,” they stated.

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However, Mr. Okon mentioned that the Federal Government has apologized, and Labour will attend the next meeting. “The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, and we are going to appear and present our demand,” he said.

Labour plans to continue pushing for their original demand of N615,000. “We will still be presenting the N615,000. It is what we presented before we walked out, though our submission was not rejected by the government,” Okon explained. “We only rejected the N48,000 that the government presented because they did not show us how they arrived at that amount. That is taking cognisance of transportation, housing, food, utilities, health, and education among others, which are basic needs of the people.”

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The Director-General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Mr. Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, expressed hope that the Tuesday meeting would be successful. He acknowledged the need for all parties to return to the negotiation table. “I am happy the government had prevailed on the issue, and they would be coming back to the table for the actual negotiations,” he said.

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Oyerinde emphasized the importance of finding common ground. “Everybody’s figure is valid. The Labour’s N615,000 proposal is valid to the extent of labour reality, the government’s N48,000 is valid to their reality, and the private sector’s N54,000 is also valid to the present-day reality. We have moved back to the negotiation table properly, and we would look at the alignment of positions. There will be a lot of give and take.”

He concluded by saying, “There will be a consensus on what the National Minimum Wage will be, and the committee will then make a recommendation to Mr. President.”

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