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It Cannot Be Paid – Presidency Reacts to Labour’s Stance on N250,000 Minimum Wage

The Presidency has dismissed the demand by labour unions across the country for a N250,000 minimum wage, describing it as “unrealistic” and “unaffordable“.

Presidential Adviser Bayo Onanuga stated that neither the Federal Government nor the private sector can meet this demand.

Onanuga noted that even the initial offer of N60,000 was rejected by governors, making labour’s demand unattainable.

Speaking on a live radio programme Crossfire on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM Lagos, Onanuga said: “The amount they’re still (demanding) is unrealistic.

It cannot be paid by the Federal Government.

“It cannot be paid by the private sector. All of them will shut down. “And the governors have said they cannot pay the N60,000 that the private sector and the Federal Government were offering before.

“That’s where we are today. I think that labour should reconsider its position.”

He added: “If you look at the budget this year – N28 trillion. And you are paying N5 trillion on wages alone; what are you going to spend on the other things that the government does?”

The labour demand comes after weeks of failed talks on a new minimum wage.

Organized labour had declared an indefinite industrial action on June 3, paralyzing businesses across the country and shutting down essential services. The labour unions argue that the current minimum wage of N30,000 can no longer cater to workers’ well-being, citing the effects of petrol subsidy removal and forex unification.

They argued that the Minimum Wage Act of 2019, signed by former President Muhammadu Buhari, should be reviewed every five years to meet contemporary economic demands.

This led to the inauguration of a tripartite committee by President Bola Tinubu in January 2024 to negotiate a new minimum wage.

Labour initially demanded N615,000, later reducing it to N494,000 and then N250,000. On the other hand, the government and private sector offered N48,000, N54,000, N57,000, and N60,000, all rejected by labour.

After a strike which was suspended for a week, the labour unions resumed talks with the government, with the President directing the Minister of Finance to present a template for a new minimum wage.

However, both sides again failed to reach an agreement, with labour demanding N250,000 and the government offering N62,000.

Presently, the President is being awaited to make a decision and send an executive bill to the National Assembly to pass a new minimum wage bill.

The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.

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