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N497,000 or Nothing: Minimum Wage Talks Deadlocked as Labour Rejects N57,000

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For the second consecutive day, the ongoing tripartite negotiation on the new national minimum wage involving the Federal Government, organized labour, and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) ended in a stalemate.

The talks, which took place yesterday, saw minimal adjustments to earlier offers from both government and private sector employers.

Notably absent from the meeting were the six governors who are members of the negotiation committee. However, Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma, attended the session, which has been adjourned to Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Organized labour initially reduced its wage demand from N615,000 to N500,000, and later to N497,000.

Meanwhile, the OPS increased its offer from last week’s N54,000 to N57,000. The government’s negotiating team, which had been adamant earlier, took a short break to consult before matching the OPS offer of N57,000, up from their previous offer of N54,000.

The labour negotiating team immediately rejected the new offers, asserting that they were not prepared to negotiate further.

Uzodimma’s brief appearance at the meeting was noteworthy as the six governors on the committee have been consistently absent.

A labour leader expressed frustration, telling journalists, “The government cannot claim there is no money while indulging in expenditures for luxury items and subsidies for specific groups. Workers are suffering while political elites benefit from these policies.”

A source privy to the details of the meeting told newsmen that labour reduced their demand from N500,000 to N497,000 in response to the government’s marginal increase.

However, they rejected the N57,000 offer, considering it insufficient and akin to a wage reduction.

The government’s offer was presented by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, with other key ministers in attendance.

Despite efforts to reach an agreement, the meeting adjourned with no resolution in sight. The next round of talks is scheduled for Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

According to Channels Television, organized labour, represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, firmly rejected the government’s latest offer of N57,000, insisting on a more substantial increase to address the economic hardships faced by Nigerian workers.

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