In preparation for upcoming negotiations on a new minimum wage set to begin in April 2024, organized labor has put forward a list of its representatives who will participate in the negotiation panel established by the Federal Government.
Typically, the government forms a tripartite committee to facilitate the negotiation process and ensure fairness. The committee, previously chaired by Ama Pepple, the former Head of Civil Service of the Federation in 2019, included representatives from organized labor, such as the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, along with government and private sector officials.
President Bola Tinubu’s administration, in the 2024 budget, initially proposed N1tn to cover minimum wage adjustments and other expenses. While the amount might be adjusted later, government officials assure that the new minimum wage will align with the current cost of living in the country.
Calls for a minimum wage increase gained momentum after the removal of the petrol subsidy by Tinubu, leading to a surge in living costs. Despite government claims that negotiations for a new minimum wage are not yet finalized, it approved a monthly wage award of N35,000 for workers, anticipating the commencement of the new minimum wage.
According to the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammed Idris, the new minimum wage is expected to take effect in April 2024. Benson Upah, the Head of Information at the NLC, mentioned that while the union is not aware of the formation of a new minimum wage panel, the government has requested a list of representatives from organized labor.
“The Federal Government reached out to us to send in our nominees or names of those who would represent us on the committee late last year and we did comply promptly. However, I am not aware the committee has been constituted,” Upah said.
Similarly, TUC Vice President, Tommy Etim, said the unions were worried over the late constitution of the panel. He, however, assured Nigerians that “no stone would be left unturned to effectively negotiate with the government on the National Minimum Wage.”
Earlier in December 2023, the NLC said only an amount reflective of the current economic realities would be accepted.
The NLC President, Mr Joe Ajaero, stated this in Abuja at the 19th edition of the NLC 2023 Harmattan School.
Ajaero, represented by the Vice President of the NLC, Mr Benjamin Anthony, said it was necessary for government at all levels to recognise that life and living conditions were getting more difficult.