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Presidency declares Labour’s N250,000 minimum wage request unsustainable

The Presidency has firmly stated that the N250,000 minimum wage demand by Organised Labour is unsustainable, emphasizing that the Federal Government cannot allocate all its resources to meet this demand.


This declaration came two days after the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) raised concerns about the proposed N62,000 minimum wage, citing potential financial strain on local councils.


On May 28, negotiations between the Federal Government and Organised Labour broke down after the government and the Organised Private Sector increased their offer to N62,000. However, labour unions deemed this offer insulting, arguing that Nigerian workers deserve far better compensation.


In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to consider the broader population’s needs. Onanuga highlighted that the resources meant for all Nigerians cannot be diverted solely to benefit a small fraction of the workforce.


“We keep telling labour to be realistic because the government cannot use all its resources to pay workers. They have other things to do. The workers we are even talking about are not up to 10 per cent of the population,” Onanuga stated. He emphasized that many Nigerians are self-employed or work in the private sector and are not impacted by the labour unions’ demands.


Onanuga also noted that the Federal Government’s N62,000 offer was made in consultation with various sectors, including the private sector. He expressed hope that labour unions would reconsider their stance upon returning from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference.


President Tinubu has announced that an executive bill on the new national minimum wage will be sent to the National Assembly, though the exact timing remains uncertain. Onanuga speculated that the bill might be transmitted after the Sallah break.


Furthermore, the tripartite committee established by the Federal Government to review the minimum wage has urged labour unions to reassess their demands. Committee chairman Bukar Aji cited several government incentives, including a N35,000 wage award for federal workers, N100bn for gas-fuelled buses, and a N25,000 monthly stipend for 15 million households over three months, among others.


Aji called on labour unions to consider accepting the N62,000 minimum wage to avoid further job losses, especially as many businesses are already struggling.


Efforts to reach labour leaders for comments were unsuccessful, as they were returning from the ILO conference in Geneva. Meanwhile, the Federal Government remains steadfast in its position, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach that considers the economic realities and the well-being of the entire population.


(Punch)

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