Labour Laments Federal Government's Delay in Minimum Wage Panel Formation

Labour Laments Federal Government’s Delay in Minimum Wage Panel Formation

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Labour unions in Nigeria are expressing concerns and gearing up for a potential showdown with both federal and state governments due to the lack of progress in establishing a new minimum wage for public sector workers. The Federal Government’s failure to constitute a committee to negotiate the new minimum wage has heightened tensions, and labour unions have not ruled out the possibility of industrial action.

The rising prices of goods and services, exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government, have led to increased inflation and a higher cost of living for workers. In June 2023, workers and labour leaders demanded an increase in the minimum wage from N30,000 to N250,000, later adjusted to N200,000 monthly. The removal of fuel subsidy has contributed to the financial strain on workers, making their monthly wages insufficient to meet basic needs.

President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, after being sworn in, emphasized the importance of improving the livelihood of Nigerians and acknowledged the need to review the national minimum wage to reflect current economic realities. Despite these assurances, workers continue to grapple with the challenges of escalating inflation.

The minimum wage was last reviewed from N18,000 to N30,000 on April 18, 2019, with the Federal Government urging state governors to comply with the new rate. However, several states have yet to implement the revised minimum wage, and there are ongoing calls for further increments to over N200,000.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has threatened industrial action if the government does not expedite the process of setting up the National Minimum Wage Committee. The Deputy President of TUC, Tommy Etuk, emphasized the importance of timely negotiations to avoid industrial disharmony.

While the Federal Government is engaged in talks at the Federal Executive Council level, the TUC insists on the need to follow due process in inaugurating the National Minimum Wage Committee. The government has assured its commitment to reviewing the minimum wage and indicated that the committee will be set up soon.

Labour leaders stress that the minimum wage review is essential, considering the economic challenges workers face, including the impact of inflation on transportation, housing, health, and education costs. They argue that a comprehensive negotiation must address these components to ensure a fair and realistic minimum wage.

As labour unions await government action, there are concerns about delays in the negotiation process and the potential consequences for industrial harmony. The TUC emphasizes the need for a strategic and timely approach to reach a collective agreement that reflects the current economic realities faced by Nigerian workers.

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