Politics

FG Woos Labour For Talks, Offers To Shift On N48,000 Minimum Wage

FG Woos Labour For Talks, Offers To Shift On N48,000 Minimum Wage..READ THE FULL STORY HERE▶

The Federal Government is wooing labour for fresh talks over the proposed new minimum wage after workers’ representatives called off their participation in the last round of negotiation on Wednesday.

Government, our correspondent gathered yesterday, is determined to resolve the impasse over the new minimum wage as soon as possible, although it was unclear last night whether the matter could be resolved before the May 31 deadline given by labour for conclusion of the deal.

Government had tabled N48ooo as the new minimum wage during the Wednesday meeting of the Bukar Goni Aji-led 37-man Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage.

The figure was considered way off the N615,000 demanded by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) prompting the representatives of the unions to walk out of the meeting.

However, Alhaji Goni Aji has now scheduled another meeting of the committee with labour leaders for Tuesday, May 21 to wrap up their negotiation.

He said government was willing to shift grounds on its N48,000 offer.

The committee chairman, in a May 16, 2024 letter inviting the unions to the meeting said: “You will recall that the organised labour representatives walked out of the tripartite committee meeting of yesterday, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, after the presentation of the position paper by the government side.

“However, as earlier discussed, we need to all sit back on the negotiation table to analyse the tripartite position and shift grounds by all sides to enable us to conclude the assignment before you travel to the ILO (International Labour Organisation) Conference to be held in Geneva, Switzerland.

“This is to give assurance to our teeming workforce that the tripartite Committee would do all that is possible to reduce the waiting time in concluding this assignment.

“I have had discussions with our members and there is a willingness to shift ground as soon as we start the negotiations.

“Kindly consider this appeal and talk to your other members too. We look forward to reconvening on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, next week to continue negotiations.”

A Presidency source said yesterday that it was difficult to determine yet whether the proposed minimum wage will be ready before the May 31 deadline given by labour.

“Not sure. The negotiation is still on. The negotiation team will meet again next week,” the source said.

A separate source at the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission said the negotiation was “work in progress.”

President Bola Tinubu had, on the last Workers Day, pledged his administration’s readiness to consider a national living wage that would address workers’ living conditions instead of a minimum wage, if suggested by the Goni Aji Committee.

He said the matter would be “resolved soon and I assure you that your days of worrying are over. Indeed, this government is open to the committee’s suggestion of not just a minimum wage but a living wage.”

He told organised labour that he had not taken their understanding, patience, commitment and support in the course of implementing his administration’s policies and programmes for granted.

“Your role as an indispensable component of the nation’s engine cannot be overstated by any government if the quest for a just and progressive society is to be realised,” he said in a solidarity speech delivered by Vice President Kashim Shettima.

He added: “I do not take for granted the understanding, patience, commitment, and support you have shown throughout the implementation of this government’s policies and programmes aimed at positively transforming our great nation.

“Your contributions have played a significant role in our efforts to rescue the economy since we came on board.”

Also speaking at the rally, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, said the Tinubu administration “empathises with the plight of workers and will do all it can to address these issues,” urging the organised labour “to maintain social dialogue in resolving disputes.”

President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, during a recent visit to The Nation, explained how labour arrived at the N615,000 it is demanding.

His words: “In arriving at N615K, we allocated N40K for accommodation. Whether you stay in Orile (a suburb of Lagos) occupying a room and a parlour, for a family of husband and wife and four children, that’s what the federal government approved.

“So if you have a grandmother or mother-in-law, you’re on your own because we didn’t factor in those ones.

“And we assigned N500 per person for that family of six per meal. I want somebody to tell us that if you eat at mamaput there, let’s assume you eat without meat. So that N500 per person is N1, 500 per person in a day for six persons, and in a month, you are going to have N270K for feeding.

“We looked at medicals. We said assuming that there is not going to be surgery or anything complicated, let’s put N50K.

“We looked at education. Let’s hope that you don’t send your children to private school. We put N50K.

“We then looked at utilities as in the electricity bill, we said N20K. And that was before the tariff increase. But if you buy a unit of N20K now, for those of you that use it, you know how long it would last.

“We now looked at gas, kerosene energy components. If you pay N15K or N17K to fill a gas cylinder now, within two weeks, it’s gone and in a month you fill your cylinder twice. So we allocated about N30-35K.

“So that is the breakdown. We didn’t make provisions for communication because you are not supposed to use GSM. So, your boss can’t even call you.

“You’re not supposed to take any form of refreshment or even buy soda. Or even pay offering in the church or tithe.

“In this our calculation, you’re not supposed to have a car because you cannot fill a tank with N30K or even service the vehicle; not even a motorcycle.

“So those are some of the things that make up this N615K.”

The Goni Aji committee was inaugurated on January 30, 2024 by Vice President Kashim Shettima to come up with a new minimum wage ahead of the expiration of the current N30,000 wage on April 18.

The committee draws its membership from government, the private sector and organised labour....Continue The Full Reading.>’.

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Kylian Walterlin

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