We May Demand ₦1Million As New Minimum Wage — NLC

Joe Ajaero, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress has said that organised labour may demand up to N1 million as the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers if the rising inflation remains unchecked.

Ajaero said the demand for organised labour would be determined by the cost of living which has skyrocketed since President Bola Tinubu came to power following the removal of fuel subsidy and other policies.

The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Thursday issued a 14-day strike notice to the Nigerian government.

The unions, in a statement, said they were furious over the government’s failure to implement a 16-point agreement signed in October 2023, which aimed to address the “massive suffering” caused by the hike in petrol prices and naira devaluation, policies blamed for the worsening hardship and inflation.

The NLC and TUC issued a stern ultimatum to the government to honour its part of the understanding within 14 days starting from Friday, February 9, 2024.

In an interview with Arise News on Sunday evening, Ajaero said, “This N1 million may be relevant if the value of the Nigerian (naira) continues to depreciate; if the inflation continues unchecked because the demand of labour is equally dependent on what is happening in the society.

“You will remember that by the time we were contemplating N200,000 (as minimum wage), the exchange rate was about N800/N900 (to a dollar). As we talk today, the exchange rate is about N1,400 or even more.

“Those are the issues that determine the demand and it is equally affecting the cost of living. And we have always said that our demand will be based on the cost of living index. You will agree with me today that even a bag of rice is going for about N60,000/N70,000 or more. A bag of locally produced corn is about N56,000 or more. Foodstuff is getting out of reach, now are we going to get a minimum wage that will not be enough for transportation even for one week?

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“You have to factor in these issues and that will determine the federal government’s commitment to this negotiation. It is not just that they want to give us a minimum wage. The old minimum wage will be expiring by April and ordinarily, the federal government ought to have set up a committee six months before that time so that negotiation would have commenced but the federal government didn’t do that until (recently when) they inaugurated a committee and the committee has not sat.

“It appears we have going to work within one month or two to agree on a figure and I doubt how those ones are going to… especially when you look at the people that the federal government assembled as members of the committee. They looked at some of the governors that are not paying even the existing minimum wage and even they have a minister of budget who didn’t implement his minimum wage as a governor.

“If you have these people in the government team on the issue of minimum wage, some of us have not seen a bright future in the work of this new minimum wage committee,” he said.

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