‘We’re not opponents’ — FG asks labour to return to negotiations

Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation

The federal government has appealed to organised labour to call off the ongoing nationwide indefinite strike and return to the negotiation table.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Monday commenced an indefinite nationwide strike over the government’s refusal to increase the minimum wage from N60,000.

The federal government had initially proposed a minimum wage of N48,000, N54,000, and N60,000 — but labour has insisted on N615,500 and then N494,000.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, said the government is seeking a peaceful outcome in the negotiations.


Bayo Onanuga, presidential aide, and Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, minister of state for labour, were at the press conference.

“This is a heartfelt and deeply considered appeal to the labour unions to continue along the path of negotiations with the federal and state governments, under the auspices of the tripartite committee that has been established to fashion out a new, realistic minimum wage for the Nigerian people,” Idris said.

“As a government, we are desirous of a peaceful outcome, and we will do everything to make this happen. Yesterday, the leadership of the national assembly met with the unions.


“Today, we have offered another invitation to the unions to meet with us and continue our discussions.

“We will continue to engage, and continue to make ourselves very available in the context of these negotiations on behalf of the Nigerian people

“Let me make it clear that we are not opponents on this negotiating table. We are united by the fact that we want the best for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and all 200 million citizens of the country.

“We have a responsibility to strike a measured and realistic balance in this effort to arrive at a new minimum wage for Nigerians.


“Let us remind ourselves of the fundamental facts: The minimum wage is not only for public sector workers. It will be binding on the private sector as well. This reality must be factored into the negotiations.”

The minister reiterated that labour’s demand for N494,000 to be the minimum wage, which would translate into an annual wage bill of N9.5 trillion, is unrealistic.

“We want the labour unions to understand that the relief that Nigerians are expecting and that they fully deserve will not come only in the form of increased wages,” Idris said.

“It will also come as efforts to reduce the cost of living and ensure that more money stays in the pockets of Nigerians.


“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) is firmly committed to doing what is right, reasonable, and sustainable regarding these minimum wage negotiations.”

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