Minimum wage: FG, private sector offer N57,000, Labour reduces demand to N497,000

Late-night negotiations between the Federal Government (FG), Organised Private Sector (OPS), and organised labour took an intriguing turn as both the FG and OPS presented a new offer of N57,000 as the new minimum wage, while organised labour adjusted its initial demand from N500,000 to N497,000.

The high-level meeting, which was previously stalled due to the absence of some governors, resumed with notable changes in proposals from both sides.

Previously, the FG had stuck to its offer of N54,000, citing funding constraints and concerns about the private sector’s capacity to pay.

However, the recent offer of N57,000 indicates a slight adjustment in the government’s stance.

The source, speaking under anonymity, told Nigerian Tribune: “Government has agreed that NLC is using evidence-based presentation. But they argue that eight states are not paying or not fully implementing the 2019 minimum wage.”

However, despite the adjustments, concerns lingered about the viability of the proposed wage figures. 

A previous meeting had raised concerns that the FG’s offer of N54,000 amounted to wage reduction, considering that the least-paid worker currently earns over N70,000.

The source who attended the meeting said: “It took government officials some time to state what they want to pay and they were passing the bulk on who will present it and then the Minister of Labour now said they have shifted the ground to N54,000.

“We still told them that, that ground they shifted, they have not started the negotiation. As it is now the take home of the lowest paid worker is over N70,000. 

“So, by their own standard, we have not started negotiating minimum wage, what we are negotiating now is wage reduction because what they are now telling us is that if we walk out from there, if we agree on N57,000 that means we will come out and tell people who are already earning N77,000 that their wage has been reduced. We told them that it is not possible for workers to start earning less than what he/she was earning.

“Is it that there is reduction on inflation or that the cost of living has improved, or is it that the cost of food has come down, why will they now be negotiating wage reduction, it’s unthinkable, we cannot involved in this kind of a thing that labour will sit down and be negotiating wage reduction and on what will it be based? Will it be based on the fact that the money they are collecting now since petroleum subsidy was removed has been reduced?

“Or why will they now be talking about wage reduction when even the inflation is going higher and the cost of living is going higher? So, we told them that that was not acceptable, but then we had to adjourn because we could not continue to negotiate without the presence of governors.

“It will not augur well for the Tripartite Committee. They said they didn’t know why the governors were not there, six of them that are supposed to be on that committee. We told them that this is a serious matter because when they refuse to come even if at the end we agree on anything they will say it’s not bidding on them because they were not there. 

“There was a permanent secretary representing one governor and the person may have no input, so nobody will make decisions on their behalf when they are not there. So, we had to adjourn to tomorrow by 4 pm.

“So we said let’s adjourn and invite the governors formally. When they offered N57,000, we told them they had not started, we didn’t see that as any shifting of ground which they promised, shifting ground must start from the point of negotiations for minimum wage, anything below N75,000 is wage reduction, anything below take home of the lowest paid worker is wage reduction. We cannot start negotiating wage reduction.”

The article was originally published on Politics Nigeria.

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