‘Be rational’ – Presidential aide tells NLC, TUC on minimum wage demand

The special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mr Temitope Ajayi, has urged labour leaders in the country to be rational in their demands for a new minimum wage.

In a tweet on Saturday, June 1, Mr Ajayi noted that the demand by president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero and Festus Osifo of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), may further depress the economy and create needless confusion.

The presidential aide maintained that only a few state in the country can pay a minimum wage above N50,000, adding that minimum wage was not designed to make workers rich.

“In the face of the rising cost of living, I believe there is need for a higher national minimum wage,” he wrote.

“However, the negotiation for a new national minimum wage by the Labour Movement should be rational and tempered within economic realities and capacity of both the government and private employers to pay.

“Aluta approach of the Labour Movement won’t solve any problem. It will rather further depress the economy and create needless confusion.

“There should be a rational conversation around the debate. Save for Lagos and probably 3 other states, I don’t think there is any state in Nigeria today that can conveniently pay above N50,000 minimum wage. A recent media report says Zamfara State government will begin to pay the N30,000 expired minimum wage from next month.

“As it is, our economy can not support N615,000 minimum wage. It means we will all have to pay our drivers, gatemen, cook, shop attendants, office assistants, waiters etc N615,000 every month. How much is the salary of the Labour leaders as unionists per month and will Joe Ajaero pay his own driver N615,000 per month from his salary as NLC President?

“The idea of a minimum wage everywhere in the world is not to make workers rich and be in a position to afford everything they want.

“In US, Canada and Europe, those who earn minimum wage keep two to three jobs at the same time to be able to pay their bills. Remaining on a minimum wage band is not a desirable position or life anyone wishes to have. Minimum wage simply means the minimum any worker should earn. Those who fall within the minimum wage band always aspire to exit the quadrangle by acquiring better education and other skills that can make them earn more to live more comfortable life.

“After negotiating a reasonable and realistic minimum wage, the focus of the NLC/TUC should be how government will address the cost of living challenges through cheaper public transportation, affordable food  and housing. Labour should also collaborate with government to boost industrial capacity so that manufacturing firms can employ more people to earn good wages.”

Meanwhile the organised labour, on Friday, announced an indefinite nationwide strike beginning from Monday, June 3.

Politics Nigeria reports that the NLC and TUC have been in negotiation with the federal government over a new minimum wage since the government policies announced last year by President Bola Tinubu led to an astronomical increase in the cost of goods and services.

The negotiations have, however, stalled as the parties failed to agree on an appropriate minimum wage from the current N30,000.

The government had proposed a new minimum wage of N60,000 which was vehemently rejected by labour leaders.

The unionists are insisting on N494,000 as the new minimum wage —after demanding N615,000 at the beginning of the negotiations.

The strike is, therefore, to force the government to agree on a new minimum wage for workers as well as review the increase in the price of electricity for some consumers.

The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.

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