Labour threatens showdown as talks on minimum wage collapse

Members of the organised labour on Tuesday threatened to paralyse the economy of the country if the federal government remains adamant to offer the Nigerian workers a living wage as demanded during this year’s May Day celebration.

The stern warning was handed to the government shortly after talks on the minimum wage among members of the tripartite committee collapsed —a development that made the meeting to be adjourned “sine die” (indefinitely).

Daily Trust had reported how the leadership of the organised comprising Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) two weeks ago walked out on the government representatives for offering Nigerian workers what they described as “paltry N48,000”.

A few days after the meeting was deadlocked, the representatives of the government jacked up the minimum wage to the sum of N54,000, members of the two labour centres frowned at it.

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At the resumed meeting on Tuesday, our correspondent gathered that representatives of the government rounded up the earlier N54,000 to N60,000 as new minimum wage. The offer, however, could not still halt the meeting from being deadlocked.


Negotiation suspended indefinitely

Speaking to our correspondent off the record after Tuesday’s meeting, some leaders of both NLC and TUC, lampooned the federal government over what they described as “lackadaisical attitude towards the welfare of workers”.

One of the labour leaders confirmed to Daily Trust that the meeting was postponed indefinitely because “there was no serious commitment on the part of the government.

“We were just beating about the bush at that meeting. There was no concrete resolution, moving on the same spot won’t do any of us any good. They said we should bring down our demands, we brought it down.

“From N615,000, we brought it down to the N497,000. Is that not reasonable enough? Was that not substantial enough? When it got to the government’s desk, they were just parabulating, they couldn’t offer any substantial amount.

“Don’t forget we have our clear analysis on how we arrived at our demands considering present economic realities. We didn’t just give an amount, it was after thorough findings we presented our demand but here we are again! No conclusion,” the labour leader told Daily Trust.

When asked when the next meeting would be held, he said, “I don’t know. For now, no date. It was adjourned ‘sine die’, I think that means indefinitely. So, when they (government officials) are ready, we will meet again.”

Another labour leader, who also spoke behind the camera, when asked what next after May 31, which is the deadline for the ultimatum, he said members of the two labour centres would hold crucial meeting and take a stand.

He added, “With the way things are, Nigerian workers can’t wait till eternity. We may have activate our instrument if negotiation fails. I’m sure you know what the instrument means? I won’t say more than that.

Why we rejected N60,000 –Labour

Meanwhile, a cross-section of the labour leaders said they rejected the new offer of N60,000 because the present inflation is not coming down anytime soon.

“You know that, that N60,000 cannot buy a bag of rice as I’m talking to you. School fees are skyrocketing every day, the prices of other basic needs are not decreasing, so what kind of offer is that,” one of the labour leaders queried.

Several efforts made to reach out to both Presidents of the NLC and TUC, Joe Ajaero and Festus Osifo respectively proved abortive as calls to their mobile phones rang out. They were yet to reply to a separate text message sent to them at the time of filing this report.

In the same vein, calls pulled across to the Head of Information at NLC Headquarters, Benson Upah and the Assistant General Secretary of NLC, Chris Onyeka were not answered last night.

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