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Labour rejects FG’s N62,000 minimum wage offer, may resume strike on Tuesday

NLC executives in a meeting with government officials NLC executives in a meeting with government officials

The organised labour says it will not accept N62,000 or N100,000 as the minimum wage for workers.

Speaking on ‘Morning Brief’, a Channels Television programme, on Monday, Chris Onyeka, assistant general secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said the union will not negotiate a ”starvation wage”.

On June 4, the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) “relaxed” their nationwide strike for one week.

The labour unions had embarked on the strike after negotiations with the federal government on a new minimum wage hit a brick wall.

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The organised labour had repeatedly proposed N615,500 and N494,000 as the new national minimum wage, which the government said was unrealistic.

On June 7, the federal government increased its offer for the new minimum wage for workers from N60,000 to N62,000; the labour unions insisted on ₦250,000 at the last meeting of the tripartite committee on minimum wage as the living wage for an average Nigerian worker.

Afterwards, Hope Uzodimma, governor of Imo state, said the tripartite committee on the minimum wage is close to reaching a consensus.

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Meanwhile, governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) have said the N60,000 minimum wage for workers is not sustainable.

Speaking on Monday, Onyeka insisted that labour won’t accept the latest offer of ₦62,000 and the ₦100,000 proposal by some individuals and economists.

“Our position is very clear, we have never considered accepting ₦62,000 or any other wage that we know is below what Nigerian workers can take home. We will not negotiate a starvation wage,” Onyeka said.

“We have never contemplated ₦100,000 let alone of ₦62,000. We are still at ₦250,000; that is where we are, and that is what we considered enough concession to the government and the other social partners in this particular situation. We are not just driven by frivolities but also by the realities of the market place—the realities of things we buy every day: bags of rice, yam, garri, and all of that.”

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Onyeka said the one-week ultimatum given to the federal government since the ”relaxation of its strike” would expire by midnight on Tuesday, June 11.

He said that should the federal government and national assembly fail to act on the demands of workers by tomorrow, the joint NLC and TUC would meet to decide on the resumption of the nationwide industrial action.

“The federal government and the national assembly have the call now. It is not our call. Our demand is there for the government to look at and send an executive bill to the national assembly and for the national assembly to look at what we have demanded, the various facts of the law, and then come up with a national minimum act that meets our demands,” he said.

“If that does not meet our demand, we have given the federal government one-week notice to look at the issues and that one week expires tomorrow. If, after tomorrow, we have not seen any tangible response from the government, the organs of the organised labour will meet to decide what to do next.

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“It was clear what we said. We said we were relaxing a nationwide indefinite strike. It’s like putting a pause on it. So, if you put a pause on something and the organs that govern us as trade unions decide that we should remove that pause, it means that we go back to what was in existence before.”

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