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Minimum wage: Labour demands N497k, FG, OPS offers N57k

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The ongoing discussions about Nigeria’s new national minimum wage have reached another deadlock. The talks involve the Federal Government, labor unions, and the Organised Private Sector.

During the meeting, the labor unions reduced their demand from N615,000 to N500,000, and later to N497,000. On the other side, the OPS increased their offer from N54,000 to N57,000. The Federal Government matched this new offer after initially sticking to N54,000.

Despite the changes, no agreement was reached. Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma attended the meeting, but none of the six governors on the committee showed up.

A source from the meeting explained, “Government has agreed that NLC is using evidence-based presentation. But they argue that eight states are not paying or not fully implementing the 2019 minimum wage. They are also talking about the inability of the private sector to pay.”

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The labor team was frustrated with the government’s stance. A labor leader expressed anger, saying, “Government cannot be telling us that there is no money; this is an insult. We did not remove subsidies or float the national currency. The government created this problem. Since the removal of the petrol subsidy and floating of the naira, has the government shown proof that the country has no money? No.”

The labor leader continued, “The government has been making life better for political elites who have been feeding fat on workers. Crude oil sales have increased, and it has been getting more money in dollars, while workers have been suffering and going deeper into poverty.”

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Labor leaders accused the government of not being serious about the negotiations. They threatened industrial action if an agreement is not reached by the end of May. “If the country has no money, let it reflect in the lives of government officials, their aides, and cronies. It is becoming obvious that the government does not want industrial peace,” a labor leader said.

A source at the meeting noted that the government insisted on N57,000, which labor rejected. “We are about to adjourn. No agreement,” the source said. They added, “We came down from N500,000 to N497,000 because when they increased by N3,000, we now came down by N3,000 too.”

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The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 28, 2024. The source emphasized, “They are crying now. They stuck to N57,000, there is a problem if the government cannot pay an appreciable salary increase. There is no sign that there is no money.”

The Federal Government team included the Ministers of Finance, Wale Edun, Budget, Atiku Bagudu, and Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha. Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State attended briefly but did not explain his presence or whether he was representing another governor.

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