Labour submits N615,000 minimum wage demand in fresh proposal

Organized labor in Nigeria, represented by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), has reportedly demanded a new minimum wage of N615,000 for workers in the country. The figure was reached after consultations between the NLC and TUC, according to an unnamed executive of organized labor. However, the wage may still increase due to the recent hike in electricity tariff.

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The demand for a new minimum wage prompted the establishment of a 37-member panel chaired by former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Bukar Aji. The panel consists of representatives from the federal and state governments, the private sector, and organized labor. The panel’s task is to recommend a fair and sustainable minimum wage, as the current N30,000 minimum wage expired at the end of March 2024.

The NLC and TUC have submitted their proposed wage figure to the government, but it remains to be seen whether it will be accepted. The NLC president, Joe Ajaero, had previously announced a proposed minimum wage of N1 million, citing rising inflation and the impact on workers’ livelihoods. However, according to another labor leader, the NLC and TUC have tentatively agreed on a wage of N615,000.

The labor leader also mentioned that negotiations are ongoing, and the recent increase in electricity tariffs will be a point of discussion. The government’s unilateral decision to remove electricity tariff subsidies without stakeholder engagement is seen as a defiance of the Electricity Act. Organized labor views this as an opportunity to push for a higher minimum wage, considering the increased cost of electricity.

Economists have expressed different opinions on the proposed minimum wage. Some argue that the proposed figure should be a benchmark for negotiation, while others emphasize the need to consider the involvement of state governments and the private sector in implementation. The affordability of a uniform minimum wage across states is also a point of concern, as the economic landscapes vary.

It is worth noting that if the proposed wage of N615,000 is accepted, some states may struggle to meet the payment, particularly those with lower economic capacities. The Federal Government and a few states might be better positioned to handle the increased wage, while others may require special assistance and intervention funds to fulfill their obligations.

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