States Reject Labour’s New Minimum Wage Demands

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had proposed N709,000 while Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) recommended N447,000 as the new minimum wage for workers.

But states are proposing between N45,000 and N70,000.

The NLC and TUC chapters in the six North-East states recommended a minimum of N560,000 per month.

In the South-East, NLC proposed N540,000 per month.

Labour in the South-West suggested N794,000 as minimum wage.

The South-South NLC zonal chapters proposed at least N850,000 per month.

In the North-West, Labour proposed N485,000 per month.

The proposals were presented when six cities across the six geo-political zones hosted discussions on the new minimum wage.

The current minimum wage is N30,000, which went into effect in April 2019.

The Federal Government in January constituted a 37-member Tripartite Committee to negotiate and agree on the new minimum wage due to take effect this year.

The tripartite panel’s sitting is currently on-going in Abuja.

The Federal Government fixed yesterday’s public hearings to get the input of the generality of the people, Labour and pressure groups, and religious and business leaders.

Yesterday’s discussions were held in Yola, North-East; Kano, North-West; Abuja, North-Central; Uyo, South-South; Enugu, South-East, and Lagos, South-West.

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, who chaired the Lagos event, restated Federal Government’s commitment to a new minimum wage.

Speaking at the South-West zonal public hearing held at the LTV Blue Roof Arena in Ikeja, Edun promised workers “a living wage that is fair and sustainable.”

He said: “We are committed to ushering in a new minimum wage that would improve the living conditions of workers.”

The minister spoke against the backdrop of the N794,000 monthly wage demanded by South-West NLC.

On whether prices of goods and services could erode any salary increase, the minister stressed the need to also increase productivity.

Edun said: “We have all agreed that if there is an increase in the minimum wage, there should be increase in productivity.

“This entails investment in machinery and facilities that will make the workers even more productive because that is how to get a monetary increase without causing inflation.

“When workers become more productive, companies become more profitable and then we will be able to afford the increase in the national minimum wage without causing inflation.”

Edun urged other arms of government to adjust the stipends of pensioners in the wake of the minimum wage review.

“There is a natural structure and so it’s up to each level of government not just to look after its workers, but after its pensioners.

“So, if there is an increase in wages, it should also apply to pensioners.

“During my time as the Commissioner for Finance in Lagos, there was a regular increase in the payment of pensioners; they were not left at one level.

“When salaries increase, pensions should also increase, and that is what we expect at various levels.

“But it equally depends on the availability of resources and affordability to make those payments. So, we don’t expect that it will be one size fits all”, he said.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Head of Service (HoS), Bode Agoro, said Lagos looked forward to a fair and realistic wage structure.

He said: “In Lagos, we have always prioritized the welfare of our workers, recognising that a well-compensated and motivated workforce is essential for sustainable development.

“One notable accomplishment has been the regular review of the minimum wage.

“I am proud to announce that Lagos has implemented a minimum wage of N41,500, surpassing the standards set by many other states in the region.”

Southwest NLC demand N794,000

NLC chapters of the five South-West states, represented by the Lagos Chairperson, Agnes Funmi Sessi, demanded N794,000 as the new minimum wage.

Sessi said the sum was agreed on by all the members of the union in the South-West.

She said based on the current cost of food, house rent, electricity, transportation, medicals, education, social expenses, and clothing, Nigerian workers deserved a living wage that was fair and commensurate with the economic realities.

According to Sessi, compared to other African countries, Nigeria’s national minimum wage of N30,000 was nothing to write home about.

She said the current minimum wage of N30,000 monthly was equivalent to $40.8; compared to Seychelles’ $465.4; Libya’s $321.83; Morocco’s $314.7; Gabon’s $270.5; and Equatorial Guinea’s $211.54.

Her position was backed by Prof. Victor Adejumo of the Obafemi Awolowo University, who represented the Congress of University Academics (CONUA).

He said a minimum of N600,000 monthly would be acceptable to CONUA.

“But, it is open to dialogue,” he added.

Benjamin Olowojebutu, who spoke on behalf of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), said his association proposed $300 or $400, which was over N600,000.

NLC proposes N709, 000, TUC suggests N447, 000

NLC and TUC proposed N709,000 and N447,000 as the new minimum wage respectively.

The two labour centres made their presentations at the North-Central zonal public hearing.

The figures, they said, were “largely influenced by the present realities.”

Plateau rejects suggestion

The Plateau State government, represented by its Permanent Secretary, Establishment and Labour Relations, proposed N60,000, N70,000 and N80,000 instead.

Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, represented by the Head of Service of the State, Abigail Waya, urged the Tripartite Committee to allow his state to renegotiate minimum wage.

He argued that the economic realities might not allow the state to pay a wage beyond its financial capability.

Niger State government said it was willing to pay any amount fixed by the committee.

Pensioners, represented by the Federal Civil Service Pensioners Union Chairman, Comrade Sunday Omezi, asked for 85 per cent of whatever figure the Tripartite Committee agreed.

North-East NLC, CAN recommend N560,000, N486,000

TUC and NLC branches in the six North-East states proposed N560,000.

They said the sum was arrived at after considering the prevailing economic situation.

Chairman of the NLC in Adamawa, Emmanuel Fashe, who spoke for his colleagues, recommended a bi-annual review of the minimum wage.

The state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), demanded N486,000 per month.

Its acting Chairman, Gambo Bupwadta, who presented the memorandum of the association, said the association conducted a painstaking assessment of the expenditures of average families.

These, according to him, included feeding, medical needs, accommodation, transportation and education to arrive at the amount.

The state branch of the NMA backed the position of the NLC.

The Adamawa chapter of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) demanded N200,000.

The Muslim Council of Nigeria in the state asked for N75,000.

Bauchi, Adamawa govts kick

The Bauchi governor, Bala Mohammed proposed a N45,000 minimum wage.

Deputy Governor of Adamawa, Prof Kaletapwa Farauta, who represented Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, also proposed the same wage.

The hearing was chaired by NLC President Joe Ajaero.

Representatives of the Gombe and Taraba governments suggested a N60,000 minimum wage.

South-East stakeholders propose N540,000

Labour in the South-East proposed N540,000.

It said the minimum wage should be reviewed every two years.

It said any governor who failed to implement the minimum wage should be impeached.

The stakeholders, including the NLC, TUC, NMA and civil society organisations, were at the Enugu hearing.

Enugu NLC chairman, Fabian Nwigbo, who spoke on behalf of his five colleagues, called for the minimum wage to remain in the exclusive legislative list, so that no governor could tamper with it.

He also lamented that to date, some states were yet to pay the N30,000 minimum wage.

Nwigbo said: “In 2019 when we were talking about N30,000 minimum wage, a paint bucket of ‘garri’ was N250. Today, the same measurement is N2,500.

“Then, the same measurement for rice was N450, beans N280, while fuel was N145 per litre.

“The N30,000 minimum wage has subsisted when a litre of fuel is N750 and above depending on where you are buying from; a paint of rice is now between N5,000 and N6,000.

“The rent of a two-bedroom flat in Enugu that used to be N250,000 to N300,000 is now N600,000 to N840,000 per annum.

“Those in the metropolis pay N1.2 million and above. Yet, the minimum wage is still N30,000. Every other thing is moving up except the salary of workers.”

South-South NLC proposes N850,000

The South-South NLC zonal chapter proposed N850,000 per month.

It called for the impeachment or imprisonment of any governor who refused to abide by the new minimum wage benchmark.

Chairman of NLC in Akwa Ibom, Sunny James, who spoke for his colleagues, said: “It is the collective request from the zone that the inflation-dependent model of wage adjustment be adopted thereby automatically raising the minimum wage for the workers whenever inflation seems high and thus eradicate the struggle for a new wage every five years, as obtained in the developed world.”

North-West NLC proposes N485,000

The NLC in the North-West proposed N485,000 per month.

Kano Chairman, Kabir Inuwa, said: “It is imperative to propose a new minimum wage that reflects the cost of living and ensures a decent standard of living for workers.

“The proposed new minimum wage per month should be determined through a comprehensive assessment of the current economic conditions, inflation rates, and the basic needs of workers and their families.

“The congress believes that for any minimum wage to achieve its purpose, it must reflect the realities of the economic situation and accordingly asses the least income that would be sufficient for the survival of a family of six.”

Katsina Governor, Dikko Radda, represented by the Commissioner for Information, Dr Bala Zango, said the state would abide by whatever wage was decided.

He said the state paid N5billion as death benefits in addition to disbursing N700million loans to workers.

“Katsina government has a good working relationship with the workers.

“We have been paying salaries and other allowances as and when due,” Zango said.