Government and Labour Find Common Ground

In a significant development, the tripartite committee negotiations on a new national minimum wage resumed yesterday, with both the federal government and organized labour shifting their positions.

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The government, represented by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mrs. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, made a fresh offer of ₦57,000 as the monthly minimum wage for the lowest-paid worker. This marked an increase of ₦3,000 from the previous offer of ₦54,000 made on Tuesday.

In a surprising turn of events, the labour unions, comprising the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), also revised their demand. After initially insisting on a much higher figure, labour has now offered ₦497,000 for discussion, a significant reduction from their previous stance.

A source privy to the negotiations revealed the shifting dynamics: “The government offered ₦57,000; Labour objected and came down to ₦497,000. The government is citing lack of funds and the inability of the private sector to pay as reasons for their position.”

The inclusion of Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma, the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors’ Forum, in the meeting was seen as a positive development, even though he is not one of the six representatives of the governors on the tripartite committee.

“The Imo State governor has stepped in. He is not one of the six representatives of the governors on the tripartite committee, but it is good that there is at least a governor. The six governors are representing the six geo-political zones,” the source added.

The negotiations, which were previously adjourned to allow for the governors’ participation, are now set to resume on Tuesday, with the aim of reaching a final agreement on the new national minimum wage.

This development comes after the government’s previous proposal of ₦48,000 was rejected by labour, leading to a walkout during the negotiations on May 15th. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had earlier promised to pay workers a living wage during the May Day rally.

The tripartite committee, comprising representatives from the federal, state, and local governments, the private sector, and organized labour, was tasked with recommending a new national minimum wage. The committee was inaugurated by Vice President Kashim Shettima on January 30th, with a mandate to “speedily” arrive at a resolution.

As the negotiations continue, both the government and labour appear to be demonstrating a willingness to find common ground, raising hopes for a successful conclusion to the long-standing minimum wage dispute.

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