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Nationwide Strike: FG Agrees To Pay Higher Than N60,000 Minimum Wage

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The Federal Government and organized labour have reached an agreement on a new minimum wage exceeding N60,000.

This decision was finalized at the end of a meeting on Monday, attended by leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and government representatives. The meeting at the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume.

The meeting was convened by the federal government following an indefinite nationwide strike initiated by labour unions demanding a living wage on Monday.

Akume announced the resolutions at the meeting’s conclusion, stating, “President Bola Tinubu is committed to a national minimum wage that is higher than N60,000.”

“Let me reassure Nigerians that we have had a very realistic and patriotic meeting, and the results will be manifesting,” Akume added.

The SGF mentioned that the tripartite committee would meet daily for the next week to finalize an agreeable national minimum wage.

He emphasized that, in respect of the President’s commitment to a minimum wage above N60,000, labour would convene a meeting of its organs immediately to consider this commitment.

The Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, who issued a statement detailing the terms of the agreement promised that no worker would be victimised for participating in the strike.

The statement titled, ‘Resolution reached at the meeting between the Federal Government and the organised Labour held on Monday, 3rd June 2024’ listed four terms of agreement between the two parties.

The statement says, “The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, is committed to a national minimum wage higher than N60,000.

“The Tripartite Committee will meet daily for the next week to agree on a national minimum wage.

“In respect of the President’s commitment, labour will immediately convene a meeting of its organs to consider this commitment.

“No worker will be victimized due to the industrial action.”

The resolutions were signed by Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, and Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, for the federal government. Joe Ajaero, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and Festus Osifo, President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), signed for the organized labour.

The labour unions had proposed N615,500 as the minimum wage, citing the high cost of living.

Photograph: NLC

However, the federal government rejected this proposal and offered N48,000, which the unions rejected on May 15.

Nigerian workers under the auspices of the main labour unions had commenced a nationwide strike, resulting in widespread disruptions across transportation services on Monday.

Airports and railway stations have been particularly affected, leaving travellers stranded and causing significant delays.

The strike, initiated by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and supported by various unions, is a response to the Federal Government’s refusal to agree to a new national minimum wage and address other critical issues.

The NLC’s demands are rooted in the economic hardships faced by workers, with the current minimum wage set at N33,000 per month, which many argue is insufficient given the rising cost of living.

During meetings with government negotiators, the union emphasized that the government has the financial capacity to meet their demands, citing the purchase of expensive SUVs for lawmakers as an example of misplaced priorities.

Late on Monday, the NLC had issued a strongly-worded statement alleging that the presence of soldiers at the negotiation venue was a deliberate attempt to intimidate union officials.

“Soldiers are presently surrounding the venue of the meeting between Labour and Government at the premises of the SGF,” the NLC statement read.

“Any attempt to intimidate, provoke, or blackmail our leaders at the negotiation table will be resisted, and the strike action will be further prolonged.”

This assertion by the NLC sparked immediate controversy and concern among observers and participants in the ongoing wage talks.

The union’s statement implied that the soldiers’ presence was not just a security measure but a strategic move to exert undue pressure on the labor leaders during the sensitive discussions.

In response to the NLC’s claims, the Nigerian Army swiftly issued a rebuttal, categorically denying any intention of intimidation.

According to the Army Headquarters, the soldiers at the venue were part of the National Security Adviser (NSA) Nuhu Ribadu’s security detail.

The NSA was attending the meeting in his official capacity, accompanied by his statutorily approved military escorts, the military said.

The army statement reads, “The attention of Army Headquarters has been drawn to a false breaking news by the NLC alleging that soldiers currently surround the venue of the ongoing meeting between NLC and the SGF.

“Kindly note that the NSA, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who is also attending the meeting, arrived at the meeting venue with his retinue of statutorily approved military escorts. Once the meeting is over, the escorts will lead the NSA from the venue.”

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